Ethical procurement


Procurement - purchasing decisions made by large organisations.

Buying ethically is not something that only consumers can do.  It can also be practised by institutions there is evidence to show that powerful institutions with large budgets can persuade companies to address ethical issues very quickly.

At Ethical Consumer we have been arguing for many years that encouraging ethical procurement across the board offers exciting opportunities to drive forward social and environmental improvements around the world.



Procurement and tax

Legal opinion

We want local councils and other public procurement bodies to take into account corporate tax strategies when they award public contracts.

The law isn’t clear in this regard, and they would need to navigate complex European legislation as well as figure out whether the UK has any relevant or useful national legislation.

We’re commissioning a legal opinion to find out more and will be publishing the results.

Crowd-sourced data gathering

We’re planning a mapping exercise of the UK, showing procurement bodies and the impact of the cuts. We want to record information about the sell-off of services such as libraries, youth centres and crèches, and relate it geographically to councils and other procurement bodies.

We’re going to see whether the companies they have contracts with avoid paying their taxes.

It’s quite a big undertaking and we want you to help us. We think it could help you too, in your local campaigns.

If you are interested please contact Leonie[@]



More on ethical procurement



A year in tax and procurement 2012

Following on Ethical Consumer’s work on tax avoidance and public service providers in 2012 Leonie Nimmo reports on our campaign so far.




Ethical Consumer's Draft Proposals for Procurement Policy for Local Authorities: addressing the use of tax havens by suppliers

Ethical Consumer is asking local authorities to address the issue of tax havens through their procurement policies. 




Ethical Purchasing in Brazil and Chile

In 2012/13 Ethical Consumer has been part of a ‘Choices’ project comparing the experiences of ethical consumption and procurement in Brazil, Chile and the UK. Rob Harrison visited both South American countries and reports on the project’s latest findings.



UK green procurement up in smoke?

Ethical Consumer has long campaigned for ethical government procurement as a strong tool for driving social change. The coalition’s recent ‘bonfire of the quangos’ saw both bodies responsible for ethical procurement go up in flames. Tim Hunt looks at what’s rising from their ashes.



The Campaign for Ethical Procurement

Why we need a public sector Responsible Purchasing Act.



The Public Purse

We look at the huge potential of public sector spending.



Links and Resources

From the UK and beyond.



Spending for the greater good

A November 2006 feature from Ethical Consumer magazine (EC103) looking at the UK Sustainable Procurement Taskforce’s 'Procuring the Future' report.



Purchasing Power

An August 2002 Feature from Ethical Consumer magazine (EC78) looking at ethical purchasing by local authorities. (please contact Ethical Consumer for a copy)



Local councils and ethical buying

From deep in the Ethical Consumer archive, our original 1991 report (EC16) comparing US and UK attitudes to responsible procurement. (please contact Ethical Consumer for a copy)


This procurement section of our website is generously funded by a grant made in 2008 by the Scurrah Wainwright Charity