Sustainable procurement: the Government Buying Standards (GBS)

GBS product specifications: mandatory for central government departments and related organisations; encouraged for wider public sector.

How to use the GBS

The GBS are a set of easy to use product specifications for public procurers. They have 2 levels:

  • mandatory
  • best practice

The GBS are owned by Defra with individual standards developed with input from across government, industry and wider stakeholders. They are extensively reviewed with market research and analysis to establish crtieria that take long term cost effectiveness and market capacity into account.

Mandatory standards: for central government procurement

All central government departments and their related organisations must ensure that they meet the GBS when buying goods and services for those product groups covered. The mandatory standards are encouraged for the wider public sector to specify in tenders.

Best practice: voluntary standards for any organisation

Best practice standards have more or stricter criteria. They’re for any organisation concerned about sustainable procurement to follow or to specify in tenders.

About the GBS

When setting the GBS, Defra considers:

  • energy in use
  • water in use
  • end of life costs:
    • repairability
    • upgradeability
    • recyclability
    • hazardousness of materials used
  • resource efficiency - quantities of scarce materials used and recycled content