28 May 2021
Sustainable procurement 2
Re-shaping our domestic furniture framework
Achieving a circular economy is an important part of local and national government sustainability objectives. It reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill and keeps items in use - which cuts down the amount of new resources that need to be sourced.
Councils have targets to meet in terms of how much waste they send to landfill, and we’re always looking for ways to support this.
When we began to develop the second generation of our framework which helps councils source furniture and household items for vulnerable residents, we were keen to maximise the sustainability benefits of the framework.
Reshaping the domestic furniture and furnishings framework
The second generation of our domestic furniture and furnishings framework was the first national, collaborative opportunity for Scotland’s reuse furniture market to supply to the public sector.
When we were shaping the tender, we had a lot of work to do to understand the reuse market. It consists mainly of small third sector organisations, which offer a limited range of domestic furniture and their focus is servicing their local community.
So we split the tender’s reuse lot into categories that reflected the market’s capabilities: flooring, hard furnishings, soft furnishings and white goods. Organisations could bid to offer for any category and there was no requirement to deliver nationally as bidders could indicate which council areas they could service.
As a result, a consortia of third sector bodies was awarded a place on the framework to provide reuse furniture as an option for councils. The framework also kept brand new furniture and furnishings as a choice for local authorities.
Meeting council standards
We had to make sure the reuse providers could meet council standards and timescales for providing the service, but it was also important not to over-specify requirements beyond the sector’s capabilities.
So we brought together stakeholders including the West of Scotland Trading Standards Group, procurement professionals, industry representatives, council technical staff, Zero Waste Scotland and a health and safety consultant to create robust and safe specifications.
This ultimately delivered a framework that met end-user, council and supplier aspirations while maximising opportunities for the reuse market.
A key aim was to create a viable, alternative to new furniture which reduced the overall amount of household waste that goes to landfill.
Between the framework’s reuse offering going live in November 2016 and May 2021, more than 767,600 kg has been diverted from landfill and over 17,257 quality items of furniture have been kept in circulation. As a result, this has avoided 2,034 tonnes of C02 emissions.
The domestic furniture and furnishings framework supports councils and housing associations in providing household items to residents in need, but it is also multi-award winning for its approach to use procurement to unlock environmental benefits.