What is green procurement and why is it important?

The importance of using environmental and other sustainability criteria in procurement has been highlighted in many national and EU documents. Public procurement is one of the key tools to reduce hazardous substances from urban sources: Municipalities are large-scale purchasers of goods and services and are often responsible for a variety of public entities e.g. schools, pre-schools, care centres, traffic, construction, street and park management, etc. – all of them following public procurement rules.

Via clear criteria on HS within their Green Public Procurement (GPP) policy, municipalities can influence large scale purchasing patterns and reduce the amounts of products, articles and materials that contain hazardous substances. By offering a market for these new alternatives municipalities can also make them more economically affordable. Thus, they can have an impact on the market in general.

According to article 33 of the EU chemicals legislation REACH, each supplier is required to inform the receiver of the product if the product contains substances of very high concern as defined by the so-called Candidate list. This information should be required in all procurements of goods and articles.

In order to ensure that the articles and services that are delivered meet the requirements that have been set in the criteria of the procurement, there is need for a systematic approach. Following up on the criteria is crucial and forms a good basis for development of the criteria for the next procurement. A follow-up should be planned already when setting the criteria for the procurement.

Article 33: Duty to communicate information on substances in articles

Many procurement officers have little knowledge and experience from dealing with hazardous substances. There is therefore a need for both guidance and training related to basic concepts and priorities. NonHazCity, therefore, developed guidance materials for making hazardous substance issues more explicit within GPP (read our chemical-smart procurement guidelines).