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InsightsLive! Resources: Procurement

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Mastering sustainable procurement - National Museums of Scotland

Mastering sustainable procurement

5 May 12.00 - 13:00 CEST & 17 May 12.00 - 13.00 CEST


  • David Tombolato, Curator & sustainability expert at MUSE, Science Museum of Trento
  • Hannah Boddy, Exhibitions and Displays Officer at National Museums Scotland

MUSE, the science museum of Trento, Italy, has reoriented its mission in alignment with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030, emphasizing policy, dissemination and education, and sustainability in practice. The focus of the talk was MUSE's approach to sustainability in practice, specifically through procurement. David Tombolato, Curator & Sustainability Expert, highlighted MUSE's commitment to being reliable and coherent in their storytelling by ensuring their own operations are sustainable. Their building is certified as LEED gold, but MUSE strives for continuous improvement across all aspects. In terms of procurement, MUSE implements green public procurement (GPP) strategies. They design exhibitions with disassembly and reuse in mind, extending their service life or repurposing elements for other uses. MUSE carefully selects materials, opting for environmentally certified options such as honeycomb cardboard panels. They also consider the environmental impact in supplier selection, following the minimum environmental criteria established by their ministry and province (find them below in the references).

Watch David’s talk on Ecsite’s Youtube channel

Hannah Boddy from the National Museums of Scotland, UK discussed their approach to embedding sustainability into procurement practices. With Scotland's stringent carbon emission targets and their own commitment to sustainability, the museum now allocates a minimum of 10% evaluation for sustainability in procurement. They assess suppliers' sustainability policies, waste reduction strategies, and project-specific carbon emissions. Notably, for an exhibition with a strong sustainability message, the sustainability score is raised to 20%. This shift has led to the selection of new suppliers prioritizing sustainability. The museum has also implemented a carbon tracking system, requiring contractors to report emissions before payment. By involving contractors earlier in the process, the museum leverages their knowledge for collaborative sustainable designs. These initiatives demonstrate the museum's dedication to making sustainability a priority in procurement decisions.

Watch Hannah’s talk on Ecsite’s Youtube channel

Take action:

  • Collaborate with suppliers by involving them in the early stages of projects, fostering a design-for-sustainability approach. By engaging suppliers from the outset, you can co-create solutions that prioritize sustainability and reduce environmental impact.
  • Develop a sustainable procurement policy for your science centre or museum, aligning it with your goals and values.
  • Prioritize local and sustainable suppliers, supporting the regional economy and reducing environmental impact.
  • Incorporate evaluation criteria that assess environmental and social factors alongside price and quality when selecting suppliers.
  • Implement transparent payment processes that ensure accountability, such as withholding payment until satisfactory reports or deliverables are received from suppliers.
  • Regularly monitor and evaluate your procurement practices, seeking opportunities for improvement and increased sustainability.
  • Share your experiences and lessons learned with other science centres and museums to foster knowledge exchange and collective progress towards sustainable procurement.

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