Government Insight: Sustainable Procurement

We welcome Fiona Sergi, Sustainability Victoria’s Sustainable Procurement Lead, to discuss the three important environmental and sustainability objectives of Victoria’s Social Procurement Framework.

Victoria’s Social Procurement Framework was established in September 2018 to drive social, economic and environmental outcomes that benefit the Victorian community. In simple terms, it has introduced a set of thresholds and criteria around environmental sustainability principles and social inclusion for government procurements.

Sustainable procurement Fiona Sergi
Fiona Sergi, Sustainability Victoria

Fiona Sergi was responsible for providing the subject matter content for the sustainable procurement sections of the framework. She graciously consented to provide her insight in response to our three questions.

1. What’s the background behind development of the three sustainable procurement objectives in the Social Procurement Framework?

In 2017, the ISO guidance standard on Sustainable Procurement (ISO20400) was launched globally, refocusing the triple bottom line approach to procurement. When Sustainability Victoria discovered that there was work underway by the Victorian government to include considerations beyond standard value for money, we knew we had to be involved to be able to influence procurement activities to improve environmental outcomes.

In terms of developing the objectives, we looked at how you evaluate a tender, looking at the capabilities of the supplier and the quality/fit of the goods or services you are purchasing. This allowed an easy way to categorise the objectives into Sustainable Outputs and Sustainable Business Practices, so we could look at the environmental impact of a supplier’s business practices and the outputs (goods and/or services) of that supplier. The third objective, Implementation of the Climate Change Policy Objectives, is included to use procurement as a vehicle to minimise greenhouse gas emissions and work towards transition to a net zero emissions future.

2. What specific tools or initiatives can businesses to adopt in order to meet the three objectives?

A great way to put your best foot forward in this space is to understand the current environmental impact of your business – i.e. energy and water usage, and volumes of waste disposed as the result of keeping your office running, through to producing your goods.

Once you have this information, look for ways to reduce waste to improve those figures and measure your progress against any goals that you have set. Keep records of how you have achieved this.

In doing so, you have (informally) developed an environmental management system. Documenting this is a great way to evidence what you have set out to achieve. Taking it the next step further, you can set up formal systems within your business and have it independently audited for certification (e.g. ISO14001). Embedding practices across your business that reduce your environmental impact can also save money.

There are a number of tools that businesses can use to measure your current carbon footprint and look for ways to make your business more environmentally friendly:

Sustainability Victoria also works with businesses and industry to help change inefficient practices to reduce your energy costs and boost business productivity. (Also see Sustainable Procurement.)

3. What would be the next key sustainability issues to target in the future?

I think the current objectives need to form ‘business as usual’ in government procurements. These objectives cover a very broad range of outcomes that work toward reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, minimising our waste disposed and creating infrastructure that is more resilient to climate change.

Once we can actually say that we have a made some headway to demonstrating there is a shift in those practices and outcomes, then we can look at maybe reframing and taking those objectives to the next level of maturity – understanding how the circular economy plays a role in procurement, creating a stronger link to active carbon reduction, and having a greater understanding of the total cost of ownership and the role it should play in decision making.


Don’t miss our information session

corporate governance policies social procurementHear more about sustainable procurement from Fiona at Mia’s free information session about Victoria’s Social Procurement Framework on Wednesday 8 May, 5:30pm in Melbourne’s CBD. Targeted at suppliers, the information session will provide practical insights about the framework, and tips for incorporating social and sustainable procurement objectives in your government bids.


Also see our original post on the Social Procurement Framework.

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