Public Procurement (Circular Economy) (Discussions)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 1 November 2023.

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Photo of Maurice Golden Maurice Golden Conservative

6. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on what discussions the Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth has had with ministerial colleagues regarding efforts to ensure that circular economy practices are embedded in public procurement. (S6O-02661)

Photo of Joe FitzPatrick Joe FitzPatrick Scottish National Party

Tom Arthur, the Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance, is on an international engagement in the United States during which he will speak at a plenary session at the Obama Foundation leaders event in Chicago. He will hear at first hand experiences of best practice relating to community wealth building initiatives in the United States of America.

The minister has regular discussions with ministerial colleagues on a range of matters, including the circular economy and procurement. The Scottish Government is committed to using public procurement to contribute to the strategic priority of a transition to a more resource-efficient and low-carbon economy.

Photo of Maurice Golden Maurice Golden Conservative

I wish the minister well on his low-carbon trip to the United States of America.

The public sector spends more than £14 billion a year on goods and services, so making that spend more circular could lead to enormous environmental and social benefits. Given that just 1.3 per cent of Scotland’s economy is circular, it is worrying that circularity has not been appropriately embedded in public procurement.

Does the minister agree that circular economy principles should be built into all appropriate contracts, in relation not only to goods and services that are bought but the scoring matrix for contract awards? If so, how does he intend to progress that agenda?

Photo of Joe FitzPatrick Joe FitzPatrick Scottish National Party

I know that Maurice Golden takes the matter very seriously, despite the cheap political point he made at the start of his comments, so I will answer the question on that basis.

Maurice Golden is absolutely right about the importance of moving to a more circular economy in relation to procurement. Our sustainable procurement tools include circular economy e-learning that helps public bodies to take account of the climate and the circular economy in their procurement activity. There is also guidance on materials and waste that is aimed at making best use of resources, including by using circular economy principles. [

Interruption

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We will promote the updated guidance on procuring for repair, reuse and remanufacturing from Zero Waste Scotland once—

The Presiding Officer:

Members, let us remember the requirement to treat one another with courtesy and respect and to listen to one another.

Photo of Joe FitzPatrick Joe FitzPatrick Scottish National Party

A number of tools are in place. Clearly, we are not yet where we want to get to, which is why we are working really hard to get there. I know that ministerial colleagues engage with Mr Golden regularly on this really important issue and that he wants to work to help the Government and the Parliament to get this right.