Sustainable procurement

Why you need a sustainable procurement policy

Sustainable procurement is not just about buying eco-friendly, socially responsible goods and services – it’s about providing them too.

More and more government departments and large corporations are requiring their suppliers to demonstrate compliance with sustainability standards. This means if you want to submit tenders or proposals you may need to show you have a sustainable procurement policy and have systems to track and measure your performance. Similarly, you might expect such standards from your suppliers. To be effective, sustainable procurement policies and practices need to extend all along the supply chain.


Sustainable procurement policies and practices guide the purchasing of good & services that…

Embed sustainability requirements into decision-making over the entire lifecycle and supply chain
Consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria as well as economic factors
Meet requirements of government and business tenders that increasingly specify a sustainable supply chain (you may not be able to tender unless you practice sustainable procurement)
Are defined according to global agreements

Global agreements include:


Sustainable procurement typically considers issues like…

Human rights, including modern slavery

Due diligence, human rights risk, avoiding complicity, resolving grievances, discrimination, vulnerable groups, civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, fundamental principles and rights at work

Labour rights and workplace conditions

Employment and employment relationships, conditions of work and social protection, social dialogue, health and safety, capacity building and training in the workplace

Consumer issues

Fair marketing, factual/unbiased information, contractual practices, health and safety, sustainable consumption, service/support, complaint resolution, data protection and privacy, access to essential services, education, and awareness

Environmentally damaging (or enhancing) practices

Pollution, sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation, adaptation, protection of the environment, biodiversity, restoration of natural habitats

Fair operating practices

Competition, anti-corruption, responsible political involvement, fair competition, sustainability in the value chain, respect for property rights

Community involvement and development

Supplier diversity, job creation, access to technology, education, culture, social investment, local employment, supporting social enterprises

Procurement standards used

Below are some examples of sustainable procurement planning and action. 

The Bolte Bridge crossing the Yarra River at night in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA)

The IS rating scheme for infrastructure assets is Australia and New Zealand’s only comprehensive rating system for evaluating economic, social, and environmental performance of infrastructure. This extends across the planning, design, construction, and operational phases of infrastructure assets. The scheme can assess the sustainability performance of infrastructure at the individual assets level, for portfolios or networks, or even at a regional scale. The rating tool is used together with a lifecycle materiality assessment tool as part of the rating process to compare new technologies and compared to business as usual.

Online shopping - Paper cartons or parcel with a shopping cart logo and credit card on a laptop keyboard.

UN One Planet Network

The United Nations One Planet Network Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) programme is a voluntary global multi-stakeholder partnership in which various parties – governmental, non-governmental, public and private – agree to work together in a systematic way. The aim is to promote and accelerate implementation of sustainable public procurement globally, as a way to drive sustainable consumption and production.

Two business leaders making deal

Queensland Government procurement policy

The Queensland Government’s procurement policy includes sustainability considerations in its aims, such as supporting regional and remote economies, helping disadvantaged Queenslanders, eliminating modern slavery, reducing carbon emissions and procuring environmentally accredited paper products.

If you want to tender for Queensland Government work you and your suppliers will need to comply with its procurement policies and supplier code of conduct.