Headlines: December 3rd, 2007

Local councils and health authorities that together spend a total of 58 billion pounds a year have signed up to a more sustainable approach to buying goods and services and to the way they run their premises. They have responded to a report from the independent Sustainable Procurement Task Force, which is aiming to see Britain take the lead in Europe on sustainable procurement by 2009.

Both local government, which accounts for 40 billion pounds of procurement a year and the health and social care sector have published their responses which contain a commitment to putting sustainable procurement into the mainstream of organisational thinking, strategy and practice. Both sectors want to see social, economic and environmental benefits from the money they spend.

The Communities Minister Parmjit Dhanda, has welcomed the backing of local government. “I am delighted by the enthusiasm with which local government has embraced this agenda,” he said. Examples of councils already taking action to make their procurement more sustainable include Wakefield , where would-be suppliers are asked what added value they can bring, Leicester, which has had an environmental purchasing policy for the last ten years and Bristol City with has worked with the Soil Association and Organic Networks to establish links with local food suppliers.

Paul Bettison, who chairs the Local Government Association Environment Board, urged other authorities to give careful consideration to the commitments and to explore how they could procure on a sustainable basis. “Councils are in the frontline in the fight against climate change and everyone needs to be doing their bit to make sure that they are acting in a green way,” he added.

In the Health and Social Care Plan organisations have undertaken to look at how they will use sustainable procurement, not only of equipment and supplies, but also buildings, facilities and services in the next five years.