Why going green can help you win government contracts

Tools & Resources

Why going green can help you win government contracts

Key learnings

  • Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) is the process by which public bodies procure their goods while upholding the three pillars of sustainable development - economic, social, and environmental.  

Increased concerns about the effects of climate change and the need to build a more sustainable future have caused governments and businesses alike to change the way they operate. As the largest purchasers of goods, services, and works in many industries, the government's buying power favourably places them in a position to positively influence suppliers’ approach to sustainability. In this article, we explain how looking after your carbon footprint could help you win business with the public sector.  

By using their power to choose goods and services with a reduced environmental impact, governments can significantly contribute to reducing environmental impacts and work towards reaching their sustainability goals.  

In recent years, the UK government have introduced a series of measures to their procurement process to ensure that their suppliers positively impact the environment and the communities around them.  

By taking a proactive approach to your businesses' carbon footprint, not only are you improving the world around you, but you’re also working to improve your chances of winning business with the public sector.  

Below, we explain the basics of Sustainable Public Procurement.  


What is Sustainable Public Procurement?

Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) is the process by which public bodies procure their goods while upholding the three pillars of sustainable development - economic, social, and environmental. 

Elements of these include: 

  • Ensuring supply chains uphold good practice.  
  • Reducing negative impacts on local communities and the environment.  
  • Managing supply chain risk effectively. 
  • Planning ahead to manage demand. 
  • Effective ongoing contract management. 

Why is SPP important for your business?

Sustainable Public Procurement is vital for businesses of all sizes across every sector. By taking a sustainable approach, you’re helping your business to improve its financials and future-proof your organisation against potential supply chain risks.  

Customers, including the government, are paying more attention than ever to how brands manufacture their products. All government departments and their related organisations must ensure that the goods they procure meet the minimum mandatory Government Buying Standards (GBS). 

This means you can’t afford to delay making your business more sustainable.


Benefits of SPP compliance

By complying with the government’s standards, you’re opening the door for your business to a whole host of profitable benefits. Governments are keen to do business with green companies, and it means you can:  

  • Improve your chances of winning profitable government contracts with increased sustainability standards. 
  • Attract like-minded investors.  
  • Effectively manage and gain visibility over your supply chain. 
  • Reduce your business costs through recycling or using more energy-efficient products.  
  • Qualify for beneficial business support, loans, or tax relief. 

Practical ways to go green

  1. Make use of energy-saving technology. According to gov.uk, the average start-up could reduce its energy bill by 18-25% by taking advantage of energy-efficient technologies such as smart lights, thermostats, or HVAC. Switching to fleets of electric vehicles could also save your business up to 30% in maintenance costs in comparison with a traditional combustion engine. 
  2. Switch to eco-packaging. According to a recent study, 50% of British customers stated that they would choose an eco-friendly packing option at a higher price, while 69% believe that companies should be required by law to use sustainable packaging, even if that meant their prices would increase. By switching to sustainable packing methods, it can help your business to attract new customers and to retain existing ones.  
  3. Engage your employees Introducing incentives such as “bike to work” schemes, lift sharing, or reusable products are great ways to turn your team green, and to stand out on government tender applications! 

Guidelines and accreditations

If you provide goods and services to the public sector, or are thinking of tendering for public sector contracts, you will need to be aware of and adhere to the Government’s sustainable procurement legal framework.   

This focuses on minimising environmental damages and providing value for money for organisations and communities. Specified here are the GBS, tools to help companies procure sustainably, and access to training on sustainable procurement.  

Businesses who want to show their overall commitment to sustainability can undertake a range of accreditations to boost their standards and publicly bolster their reputation. Examples of certifications your business can apply for are environment management frameworks such as ISO 14001 or green credentials such as the Green Growth Pledge for businesses in Wales.

Next steps...

  • To learn more about how to reduce your carbon footprint and increase energy efficiency, take a look at our bundle on low carbon business 
  • For more information on sustainable procurement tools, check out the GOV.UK dedicated website.