Building Net Zero and Circular Economy into Public Sector Procurement Strategy

6th December 2021

York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (YNYLEP) appointed us to support the Yorkshire & Humber Strategic Procurement Group build carbon reduction and circular economy principles into the procurement processes of local authorities across the Yorkshire & Humber region. We worked with YNLEP to provide strategy advice and develop toolkits to support the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from the procurement of goods, services and works across the local authority partnerships.

Local authorities in the Yorkshire and Humber region spend approximately £4 billion on procured goods, works and services each year. Many of the region’s local authorities have declared a climate emergency. Additionally, targets to transition the Yorkshire region towards a low-carbon circular economy are defined with the YNYLEP Circular Economy Strategy and North & West Yorkshire Emissions Reduction Pathways Study.

Aligning public procurement strategy with decarbonisation commitments was therefore recognised by YNYLEP as being critical in sending clear signals to the supply chain that GHG reduction represents a high priority for the region’s local authorities, with the intention of rewarding and incentivising these outcomes in future procurement exercises.

We delivered a range of support services within the scope of the project, including:

  • A review of local authority procurement and commissioning strategies – including recommendations to ensure strategies align with decarbonisation commitments and targets often outlined in the Authority’s Climate Change Strategy.
  • Expenditure analysis – including a high level (Scope 3) carbon footprint to help local authorities understand GHG emissions linked to purchasing and help prioritise efforts towards reducing carbon emissions through future contracting.
  • Development of Low Carbon Procurement Toolkits – including category specific guidance, to assist procurement and commissioning teams embed low carbon and circular economy principles across future tendering exercises. This included end-to-end procurement guidance mirroring the purchasing cycle.
  • Webinars and training – to upskill local authority representatives on the use of the toolkit, including guidance on embedding low carbon and circular outcomes across the procurement cycle.

Wider objectives of the project included supporting local authorities to align decarbonisation commitments with social value outcomes.

Our Responsible Procurement & Sustainable Supply Chain Lead, Alex Forrest said: “For many organisations – public and private sector alike – the major proportion of carbon emissions are associated with purchasing activity. Tackling carbon emissions linked to supply chain fundamentally requires an approach which sees sustainability principles embedded within corporate procurement strategy. Making smart choices over what, whether and where to buy has a hugely significant impact in addressing Scope 3 emissions.”

Jos Holmes, YNYLEP’s Local Authority Climate Action Coordinator said: “Strategy advice and toolkits developed through the course of this project has been extremely well received by the local authority partnerships of Yorkshire and Humber and will support efforts to lever the delivery of low carbon goods and services across the region through public sector expenditure.”

Featured image: andy via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)