Government procurement ‘not green enough’

18 December 2009

18 December 2009 | Jake Kanter

The UK government must make “further progress” on sustainable procurement across its estate, a report published today has said.

The Whitehall sustainability update by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) which tracks eco standards across government buildings recognised good work on green purchasing, but called for more action.

Some of the government’s key objectives are “at risk” according to the report, which was independently analysed by the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), the UK government’s independent watchdog on sustainable development.

For example, only 11 of 22 departments have sustainable purchasing objectives and incentives linked to efficiency savings aims.

Elsewhere, a number of departments are failing to use the Sustainable Procurement Task Force’s “flexible framework” tool to assess performance on green purchasing. Other departments are not taking up some of the sustainable quick wins that have been identified.

All but one department have, however, set sustainable procurement targets for their permanent secretaries.

Over the next six months the government will develop a “sustainable procurement roadmap” and make the issue a “leadership priority”. It will also aim to develop buyer skills through training on sustainability.

Rebecca Willis, vice chair of the SDC, praised the progress of the government over the past 12 months, but said its next task is to “get to grips with its supply chain”.

On broader objectives, the government cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent in the past financial year relative to the 1999-2000 baseline. The OGC also found that 48.3 per cent of central government department waste was recycled in 2008-09, already exceeding the target of 40 per cent set for 2010-11.

Economic secretary to the Treasury, Ian Pearson said: “We are dedicated to encouraging more radical and innovative approaches to tackling negative impacts on the environment, and we will announce new targets for Whitehall next year, following a comprehensive review, to ensure they remain relevant, ambitious and lead best practice.”

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