Headlines: October 7th, 2004

The Environment Minister has set strict new ‘green’ purchasing and estate management targets for government departments. Elliot Morley outlined the new standards when he spoke at a conference set up for procurement managers from across the public sector and organised jointly by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Office of Government Commerce in the Treasury.Mr. Morley’s announcement means that all central Government departments and their Executive Agencies in England have until December 1st to draw up environmental purchasing policies and to ensure these are integrated with departmental procurement activities. They will also have to establish mechanisms for measuring progress in this area and reporting on it.

The departments must also work with suppliers to find sustainable solutions to the provision of goods, works and services and help those suppliers to implement environmental supply chain management programmes where this is appropriate. With immediate effect Environmental Consideration Clauses must be included in all contracts for goods and services, including PFIs and Public Private Partnerships.

Sustainable development considerations will have to be included in all new build and major refurbishment construction projects where design begins on or after the December 1st deadline. Finally Mr. Morley has instructed all departments and agencies to plan to replace or modify ozone-depleting fixed refrigeration, air-conditioning and fire protection equipment as it reaches the end of its life and ensure hydro fluorocarbons and other greenhouse gases are not used in any case where safe and cost-effective alternatives are available.

He said that in spite of their efforts so far, Whitehall departments and other government bodies currently only rated a ‘could do better’ on sustainable procurement and estate management. “The new targets will lock in more sustainable purchasing requirements which in turn will send a clear message to manufacturers about the demand for sustainable materials,” he said.

Dr Clare Poulter, Chair of the cross-Government Sustainable Procurement Group said there was still much to be done to drive forward sustainable procurement in the public sector but there was a growing awareness within the sector of the need to buy goods and services in a sustainable manner.

The OGC is already advising public sector purchasers on green ‘Quick Wins’ and a downloadable list of environmentally friendly products is available from its GCat and Portfolio catalogues.