First ISO 20400 sustainable procurement assessment issued in the UK public sector

A purchasing consortium for higher education facilities in London has become the first in the global education sector to be assessed to the ISO 20400 standard for sustainable procurement, in what's believed to be the first such assessment in the UK public sector.

London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC) achieved a 3.71 score out of 5 in its initial assessment against ISO 20400, the new international standard for sustainable procurement. The buying organisation was praised by assessors for “strong leadership, good governance and excellent engagement with stakeholders”.

The assessment was carried out by Action Sustainability, the lead technical author for the British Standard on sustainable procurement, BS 8903 , and the UK delegator for the new ISO 20400 standard.

Action Sustainability’s lead consultant James Cadman said: “LUPC has clearly and unambiguously adopted ‘responsible procurement’ as its methodology for procuring the goods and services its Members may require. LUPC’s culture and approach, not least in relation to social issues and matters around modern slavery and the like, are forward thinking and fully embrace best practice and set a good example for many organisations to emulate.”

LUPC became the first consortium of its type to comply with the requirements of the UK Modern Slavery Act, by publishing a Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement in December 2015. LUPC is also a founding member of of Electronics Watch – a monitoring organisation to improve labour conditions in the global electronics industry. The organisation also issues guidance with its members to outline recommendations on the protection of human rights in supply chains.

Golden thread

The assessment report praised LUPC for identifying a “golden thread” that linked policies and procedures across category purchasing strategies, tender documents and agreements.

“Our members want to buy their goods and services responsibly,” LUPC’s director Andy Davies said. “We consider it vital that our procurement practices reflect those values. We’ve made a great start, but we won’t rest on our laurels. Now we must work hard to improve our score before the assessors return later in the year.”

LUPC’s membership is made up of universities and higher education colleges in London, as well as other public organisations from neighbouring research and cultural sectors. It was part of a wider higher education purchasing consortia in the UK that works to tender and manage more than 100 EU-compliant framework agreements for its members to use. During the last 12 months, members saved £33m on the acquisition of goods, services and upgrades.

The assessment follows on from the news that UK construction contractor Balfour Beatty became the first private company globally to be assessed to the ISO 20400 standard. Balfour Beatty is also a member of the Supply Chain School, an initiative which represents a common approach to sustainability within supply chains that includes companies such as Carillion, Skanska and Willmott Dixon.

The School’s chair Shaun McCarthy OBE, has helped shape the structure of the new standard, and has previously noted that the “time is right” to launch new standards and guidelines.

For a detailed explanation of what the new ISO standard is and how it could impact your business, the edie Explains download features explanations from Action Sustainability and BSI. 

Matt Mace

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