Public Procurement as a means to advance environmental sustainability
Every year, public authorities spend approximately one thousand eight hundred billion euros (equivalent to 14-16 per cent of the EU's GDP) on goods and services, i.e.:
- IT equipment, construction services, textiles, medical equipment, food and catering services, cleaning products and services, gardening products and services, furniture, transport, etc.
These goods and services make an impact on the environment we all leave in and lead to:
- more green-house gas
- less biodiversity
- pollution, which harms people's health
- fewer natural resources.
Public authorities in the EU are responsible for the way they use their spending power. They should lead the change towards:
- sustainable production and consumption patterns
- eco-friendly technology
…to preserve our planet for ourselves and future generations.
What is Green Public Procurement (GPP) and how it can help?
Green public procurement (GPP) means bringing environmental concerns into the tendering process for goods and services
It is a powerful instrument that public authorities can use to
- reduce their CO2 emissions and advance their climate change objective
- contribute to a more sustainable use of natural resources and raw material
- create opportunities for emerging "green economies" and boosts the competitiveness of the European industry by stimulating innovation in eco-technologies
- set an example for private and corporate consumers, thus encouraging the use of green standards in private purchasing
What are the potential benefits of GPP?
Europe is a front-runner in GPP …but its potential has not yet been fully exploited.
The main obstacles to an increased uptake of GPP are:
- Limited established environmental criteria for products / services – and where these do exist there are often insufficient mechanisms, such as databases, to publicise them.
- Insufficient information on life cycle costing of products and the relative costs of environmentally friendly products / services
- Low awareness of the benefits of environmentally friendly products and services.
- Uncertainty about legal possibilities to include environmental criteria in tender documents.
- The lack of political support and resulting limited resources for implementing / promoting GPP (improved training is particularly necessary).
- The lack of a coordinated exchange of best practice and information between regions and local authorities.
The EU Approach to GPP
The European Commission has set an ambitious target:
…50 per cent of all public tenders in all EU Member States to be "green" by 2010.
To help public authorities meet this target, the European Commission's DG Environment has produced:
- a GPP policy
- GPP guidelines
- a GPP toolkit with which to train:
- policy makers
- legal, financial and procurement officers.
- GPP common criteria that can be readily introduced into tender documents
More info on the EC DG Environment Green Public Procurement Web-page