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Green public procurement

The Commission wishes to encourage green public procurement which is an effective instrument in promoting environmentally-friendly products and services and in encouraging eco-innovation, thus contributing to sustainable development.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 16 July 2008 on Public procurement for a better environment [COM(2008) 400 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

The objective of this Communication is to provide guidance on how to reduce the environmental impact caused by public sector consumption and how to use Green Public Procurement (GPP) * to stimulate innovation in environmental technologies, products and services.

More specifically, the Communication proposes instruments which should enable the main obstacles to increased take-up of green public procurement to be removed. The Commission recommends the following:

  • setting common green public procurement criteria;
  • encouraging publication of information on life cycle costing of products;
  • increasing certainty about legal possibilities to include environmental criteria in tender documents;
  • establishing political support for the promotion and implementation of green public procurement through a political target linked to indicators and future monitoring.

Scope

This Communication covers all public procurement procedures, both above and below the thresholds defined by European public procurement Directives. The Commission has identified ten priority sectors for GPP:

  • construction;
  • food and catering services;
  • transport;
  • energy;
  • office machinery and computers;
  • clothing and other textiles;
  • paper and printing services;
  • furniture;
  • cleaning products and services;
  • equipment used in the health sector.

Common GPP criteria

The Commission highlights the need to define common green public procurement criteria. A preliminary set of criteria for products and services in the ten priority sectors has been established in the framework of a "Training Toolkit" (EN). The criteria have been based on criteria used in the granting of the European Eco-label, in particular, or, in the absence of a European label, national ecolabels and are the result of cooperation between the Commission and a group of experts made up of representatives from Member States.

GPP criteria are divided into two categories:

  • the "core" criteria are designed to allow easyapplication of green public procurement and are focused on the key area(s) of environmental performance of a product. They are aimed at keeping administrative costs to a minimum for companies who have to comply with the criteria and public authorities who have to enforce compliance with them. The Commission proposes that by 2010, 50% of all public procurement should comply with these criteria;
  • the "comprehensive" criteria take into account more aspects or are based on higher levels of environmental performance, for use by authorities that want to go further in supporting environmental goals.

Assessment and monitoring

In order to monitor green public procurement, the Commission proposes to establish two types of indicators: quantitative indicators to assess the progress of the policy and its impact on the supply side, and impact-oriented indicators allowing assessment of the environmental and financial gains made. In 2010, the Commission will evaluate the situation and produce a review which will serve as the basis for setting future targets.

Context

The potential for green public procurement was first highlighted in the European Union in 2003 in the Commission Communication on integrated product policy. In 2004, Directives 2004/17/EC and 2004/18/EC, which constitute the European framework for the procurement of public contracts, clarified how purchasers can integrate an environmental dimension into the tendering process. The Commission handbook "Buying green!", adopted in August 2004, aims to further clarify how these new rules can be used to conclude green public contracts.

The new European Union strategy for sustainable development, adopted by the Council in June 2006, set a target that by 2010 the average level of green public procurement in the EU should be the same as the 2006 level of the best performing Member States in this area.

This Communication is part of the Action Plan for Sustainable Consumption and Production and the Sustainable Industrial Policy (SCP/SIP), which establishes a framework for the implementation of instruments aimed at improving the environmental performances of products.

Key terms of the Act

  • Green public procurement: a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured.
Last updated: 16.09.2008

See also

For further information, please consult:

  • the Commission webpage dedicated to green public procurement (EN) and,
  • the Commission handbook "Buying green! ".
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