Statutory guidance

Sustainable procurement: the GBS for food and catering services

Official Government Buying Standards (GBS) for food and catering services



Sustainable procurement is the process whereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that benefits not only the organisation, but also society and the economy, while minimising damage to the environment.

The Government Buying Standards (GBS) are set at 2 levels.

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.

When setting the GBS, the following were considered:

  • 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