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by Hugh Carr
02 November 2021
Associate Feature: Helping local government build a green recovery

Associate Feature: Helping local government build a green recovery

Scotland’s public sector has been mitigating its environmental impact for decades and this has sharpened considerably in recent years.

Efforts have increased over time, from encouraging recycling to a wider focus on reducing the carbon footprint of local and central government.

Scotland-Excel is the national centre for procurement expertise for the local government sector and has been putting contracts in place to help Scotland’s councils source a range of goods and services for more than ten years.

Hugh Carr is the Head of Strategic Procurement at Scotland Excel. He points out that as Scotland builds a green recovery, the country’s councils are being asked to do even more to help in the drive towards Net-Zero.

He said: “The contracts we have been putting in place have been part of the local government sector’s climate response journey. Over time, we’ve improved and refined our frameworks. Now we are stepping up to do even more to support councils in the green recovery and in their climate emergency responses.”

This support from Scotland Excel covers a range of activities. The organisation has frameworks that include helping councils recycle their waste, source energy efficiency contractors, commission construction projects, and source food for schools.

For many years, the organisation has embedded requirements in its tenders that seek to capture how environmentally sustainable a potential supplier’s business practices are.

Hugh added: “We want suppliers to tell us how they will mitigate impact – for example - what kinds of vehicles they use and how efficient their processes are. We currently have some 75 framework agreements in place, ranging from the supply of educational materials to construction, waste services and food provision.

“All of these areas have different consequences and outcomes on environmental impact and we look to work with suppliers to see what can be done to mitigate that impact. We also look for sourcing strategies that result in more sustainable supply chains that produce less waste.”

On reducing transport emissions, Scotland Excel works to bring more local suppliers onto framework contracts, which cuts transport miles. “We will also soon be helping councils to source electric vehicle charging infrastructure,” Hugh adds.

In construction, the organisation helps councils and housing associations to commission new build projects that result in energy-efficient homes. It also helps councils and housing associations to commission a wide range of energy efficiency contractors, helping to improve the current housing stock.

Scotland Excel helps councils to choose more sustainable construction methods. It helps councils take account of and mitigate the life cycle impact of construction projects, both in terms of materials used, waste generated and the general impact of the project on the environment.

Scottish councils spend around £65m a year on food contracts, and recent climate change discussions have highlighted the adverse impact of food miles.

Reducing this is a key way of lowering the carbon footprint associated with meeting the food requirements of councils. One way Scotland Excel does this is to ensure local small to medium-sized businesses have the opportunity to bid for food provision contracts.

This gives small suppliers the chance to collaborate with a larger supplier who, in turn, becomes responsible for the delivery of the goods to councils.

Hugh said: “In this way, we are able to cut down on food miles, by sourcing from a multitude of local suppliers, while still maximising delivery and purchase efficiencies.”

Hugh notes that while Scotland Excel’s approach is having a beneficial effect in helping councils to lower their environmental impact, work is on-going to quantify the data.

“Devising an all-embracing, carbon mitigation metric is a challenge right across the public sector. I sit on the Scottish Government’s strategy and objectives workstream and a key focus for us is looking at how best to measure carbon reduction.

This is very much a work in progress, and we support the Scottish Government in whatever best practices have emerged so far in relation to measuring environmental impact.”

This artcile was sponsored by Scotland Excel.

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