Procuring for a Circular Economy

29th November 2017

To safeguard Scotland’s resources, Scottish Government policy makes increasing the supply and demand for circular products and services a key priority. In addition, the Scottish Government’s, Circular Economy Strategy – ‘Making Things Last’ – recognises the important role of public procurement, in supporting a transition to a more circular economy.

To help meet these objectives, non-governmental organisation Zero Waste Scotland commissioned Sustainable Procurement Ltd as project lead, with us as sub-contractor, to develop procurement guidance to support circular economy purchasing decisions and outcomes across the Scottish public sector.

The Zero Waste Scotland procurement guidance, now in circulation – ‘Procuring for Re-use, Repair and Remanufacturing’ – includes category and commodity guidance across key areas of public sector spend, including catering, construction, electricals, furniture and medical devices.

The document sets out the rationale for making purchasing decisions, with product life extension in mind, that is:

  • Cost savings and cost avoidance;
  • Security of supply;
  • Enhancing resource efficiency;
  • Enhancing value and increasing opportunities in the local economy;
  • Delivering national and organisational outcomes.

The guidance is intended to equip procurement professionals, decision makers and budget holders with practical guidance, on incorporating circular economy across stages of the procurement lifecycle, together with examples of how other contracting authorities have approached circular procurement, through case study examples.

One of the report authors, our Senior Consultant Alex Forrest, said:

“The UK public sector procures a huge amount of goods, services and capital items, with current procurement around £213 billion per year. There are potentially enormous gains to be made if this substantial sum could be deployed to purchase products and services with good circular credentials. It could provide a major toe-hold in the market and drive a more circular economy.”

Photo by Andreas Dantz, Schrauben Wieder Rein (CC-BY-2.0), via