Don’t just make do, make good

Together with Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) National Procurement has been looking at ways to inspire change – starting with the national furniture framework and seeking how this can become more circular, starting with suppliers and material use right throughout its life cycle ; reducing harm, waste, and impact on the environment.

This isn’t a new concept – for example, the phrase ‘Make do and Mend’ dates back to World War Two. A significant campaign of its time, the Make do and Mend pamphlet was supplied to households encouraging creative and innovative ideas - from repurposing clothes, to jam making, ideas using honey instead of rationed sugar, or even turning London residential squares into chicken runs. Despite the difficult context, ideas under the ‘Make do and Mend’ agenda were largely met with great enthusiasm and a shared sense of duty.

Some will put this down to necessity, and that’s fair. However as a procurement professional working on behalf of one of Scotland’s largest employers, I think there is a lot here we can take inspiration from.

Supporting a circular economy in practice ultimately means that we are trying to ensure that products and materials are kept in high value use for as long as possible. This aspiration not only benefits the environment, but means we can drive economic benefits too by inspiring new markets and improving business resilience. For communities, this ethos supports social enterprises who not only share the ambition to drive social and environmental benefit, but through their entrepreneurial approach, are often well placed to respond to a growing demand around sustainable production and managing the products life through repair and maintenance services.

As a very bold and specific statement of intent, we’ve looked at how we can influence the wider marketplace by setting 25% of the furniture tender award criteria based on circularity alone.

In addition, we’ve also created a separate opportunity for supported businesses only – a move greatly welcomed by this community who often struggle to get enough attention and engagement to secure business that keeps their disabled and disadvantaged workers in greatly valued employment.

The new framework commences from December and we‘re hoping everybody gets behind it to inspire positive change in NHS Scotland and beyond. 

This approach indicates NHSScotland’s commitment to sustainability and transitioning to a more just social and environmental Scotland. And by including this scored proportion of our procurement, it is a strong signal and clear statement of intent to suppliers who can evidence their leadership to help change the way furniture is produced, managed and re-used to have less impact on finite natural resources.

We’re still in the early days of seeing the impact of such initiatives, but in progressing and building such opportunities, I hope we can inspire real positive change to make things better, especially in such critical areas.  This is an important aspect where we can demonstrate how procurement can go beyond just a tender, transaction or process of purchasing to increasing focus on helping businesses and customers make good choices that are both commercial and sustainable. 

So, once the framework is live, we invite customers and suppliers to find out more, use it, and by doing so, make a contribution towards a more sustainable Scotland.

Did you know that a supported business right here in Scotland helps produce all pillows for NHSScotland hospitals? Click here to watch our short video and find out more

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