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East Lothian Council working towards becoming a net-zero council

With Scotland working towards an ambitious target of ending its contribution to climate change by 2045, businesses and organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to play their part – with benefits in customer confidence, future resilience and sometimes to the bottom line as a result.

One of those pioneering new ways of getting the kit it needs while respecting the limits of the planet’s natural resources is East Lothian Council.

The council will commit to doing things differently in how it buys and uses products, by placing a much bigger emphasis on purchasing re-used products where possible, prioritising repair and refurbishment to keep things in use for longer, and moving to leasing products and services so that assets can be used by other customers if the council’s needs change. 

The organisation recently saw its first Sustainable Procurement Policy approved by elected members, with a focus on minimising the environmental impact of the local authority’s consumption while maximising the benefits to the local area and working towards becoming a net-zero council. 

It’s envisaged that the policy will eventually see sustainability embedded into all council tenders for goods, services and works – with changes rolled out in phases to ensure a smooth transition for staff and service users and maximise engagement from suppliers.

The council recognises a huge scale of opportunity to lead by example, transforming the way it procures and uses products and services sustainably and collaborating with partners to drive benefits for the wider community.

The circular loop can offer huge benefits to businesses and organisations through increased commercial opportunities, reduced costs from waste mean councils have more money to spend on education, social care and other public services, and it also means a healthier environment.  Maintenance contracts can mean longer term relationships between buyers and suppliers, while refurbishing products can help diversify markets by creating demand for local jobs and skills. Demand for circular services such as repair, refurbishment and remanufacturing can offer new training and employment opportunities in the local economy.

Senior Procurement Officer Mikel Vallejo said: “Sustainability as a concept is still very much in its infancy and we acknowledge that this may require a need to better inform and educate others about both the financial and social benefits that can be achieved.

“It’s about the council and our carbon footprint but it’s also about the wider community. We are working towards a sustainable East Lothian and our businesses and communities are as much a part of that too.”

East Lothian Council received dedicated advice and access to best practice information from the circular procurement team at Zero Waste Scotland – which is also a key partner in the trans-European ProCirc consortium.

Mikel said: “The support, resources and networking opportunities from Zero Waste Scotland and ProCirc have been brilliant. It was really valuable to have access to that level of expertise and experience, and it has provided the quality assurance we needed that our actions will make a real impact.”


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