Headlines: January 5th, 1999

The DETR has issued helpful information on environmentally-friendly purchasing in the public sector.It warns that public sector organisations cannot award contracts for goods or services because of a supplier’s environmental record – as it is both UK and EU policy to award contracts on a fairly strict regime dominated by the basis of lowest price.

But Mike Acheson of DETR’s Procurement Policy and Advice Division says there are steps that can be taken in the tender advertisement, tender documents and selection criteria which can make it more difficult for firms with poor environmental records to win work.

In Green Procurement in the Public Sector, he says the principle is to make the environmental requirement relevant to that contract. So contractors can be required to supply recycled paper to the organisation, but the organisation cannot insist that all tenderers only supply, or use, recycled paper for their other customers or for themselves. Also, invitations to tender can contain a requirement for companies to specificy how they would deliver the product or service while meeting an organisation’s environment policy.

The document also points to the scope to reject on the basis of conviction of a criminal offence or commitment of grave misconduct, which could include offences under environmental legislation.

For further details, see the full document on the internet at www.detr.gov.uk