Tech Net Zero discovery report – recommendation 6


Recommendation 6 – Make sustainability part of procurement 

What’s the problem? 

Our policy research and our conversations with public servants both highlighted the opportunity of procuring digital products and services in a way that reduces carbon emissions. 

“Our next steps will be things like asking within procurement if they’ve got an environmental strategy. What are they doing about accreditations and things like that? Some of [these] might not be assessment criteria, but [they] might be performance criteria for the contract”  

Digital and technology lead in health and care

Public servants talked about the challenge of getting enough funding to explore and deliver new technologies, including digital services. 

“You might have implemented it externally using external money, but there’s always an ongoing revenue implication to it, and I don’t think that’s being picked up or highlighted enough when you’re bringing stuff in”  

Digital and technology lead at a local authority 

Participants also mentioned not knowing how sustainability should translate into digital procurement. They saw an opportunity to build sustainability into wider procurement policy and platforms, rather than leaving it to individual organisations to interpret. 

Read more in our research findings about this problem: 

Difficulties with sustainability in procurement and supplier management 

Lack of funding, time and resource 

Potential solutions 

Net zero needs to be a prominent part of the procurement process, and people need support to implement it. The STAR team emphasised the importance of addressing carbon reduction in procurement. They pointed to the sustainability clauses added to the UK government Model Services Contract and supplier code of conduct as examples. 

Various practitioners encouraged bringing net zero needs into relationships with vendors – many are addressing these needs in their product and service roadmaps already. Considering net zero throughout supply chains will be essential. 

Applying user-centred design and involving digital and sustainability experts early during procurement will help make solutions cost effective and sustainable. 

Possible approaches to solving this problem might include:

Next: Next steps