ACR+ team followed the webinar “Could mandatory circular procurement drive the EU CEAP?”, on 25 November 2021. The webinar focused on how circular procurement is one of the answers to the changing functional needs of users within an organisation. The debate was concentrating on the policies to drive circular procurement, thereby accelerating the transition to a circular economy within the EU.
The event was introduced by Mrs Maire (DG environment), explaining that the European Commission proposed further GPP legislation under the EU Green Deal. In the framework of the Circular Economy Action Plan (March 2021), the EC submitted minimum mandatory GPP criteria targets in sectorial legislation and a mandatory reporting to monitor the uptake of GPP. This is the case for the EU batteries Regulation, the Packaging and Packaging waste Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Farm to Fork Strategy. On top of that, the EC is running its GPP website, with a set of examples on GPP. The EC is currently working on the revision of GPP on buildings.
The second intervener, Mr Hidson (global Director of the Sustainable Procurement Center, and member of the ICLEI), claimed that GPP criteria are a must and should be part of further legislation processes. However, for GPP to be efficient, public authorities will need direct support. Indeed, whether GPP criteria are mandatory or not, the support need to be professionalised, as there is a serious need for skills and knowledge. Collaboration and trainings are the key solution. Lastly, for the most complicated case, tasks forces should be created to fully integrate GPP criteria efficiently.
The second part of the webinar was dedicated to three concrete examples of GPP.
Prof. Dr.-Ing Kuchta from the city of Hamburg explained that cities and ministries face difficulties in bringing in line all the requirements and aspects on the procurement side. The need for a user-friendly online tool is urgent, where public authorities can extract easily specific proposals.
Since 2013, there is an obligation for contracting authorities to follow GPP guidelines, with fixed criteria on how and what to buy in Hamburg. The city has become a pioneer in GPP, with initiatives such as a joined system of coffee shops to return cups, the ban of coffee capsules in administrations, labels on several products (Germany has even a website to compared all labels),…
GPP criteria offer a more efficient use of energy and resources, reduce pollutants and lead to a rise in demand for green goods and services. However, there are some disadvantages as well. For example, depending on the price, the obligation to follow GPP guidelines is not mandatory. Besides, the guidelines are not always fixed.
As a conclusion, Prof. Dr.-Ing Kuchta claimed that GPP has to be mandatory, but with the creation of simpler tools.
The second insight was introduced by Dr. Mascioli, who declared that before GPP criteria were mandatory in Italy, very few public authorities were using them. Now, GPP is working well in the country. Indeed, Italy has been able to create tax levers on products that comply with the Minimum Environmental Criteria (MECs), which are their GPP guidelines. Besides, Italy has launched an ecolabel licence for cleaning services and GPP have become the point of reference for Green Baking Procurement.
The outcomes of mandatory GPP have shown that the leverage effect is greater if the criteria listed are homogenous and if relevant public procurement expenditure on goods, services and works comply with those homogenous criteria. On top of that, there is a need for training for contracting authorities and economic operators, as well as a monitoring system to verify the outputs.
The last intervention referred to the insight of the city of Pamplona, in the Navarra region of Spain. The region developed a guide for strategic and socially responsible procurement. Since then, it has been made mandatory to include social and environmental clauses in the selection criteria of all tendering processes with a minimum weight of 10% of total evaluation. One of the main axes of the City’s strategy for 2030 is to innovate in public management, as public authorities are the engine for city transformation. Now, topics such as climate change, mobility and energy can easily be addressed through procurement. One example of this transformation is the project BIOCANTEENS. The city shifted from regular catering services to buying products from local organic farmers. As a result, children eat healthier food and the city invest in local economy. Moreover, the city is trying to improve the involvement of SMEs in public procurement.
After the presentations, a panel discussion followed with the previous speakers and Mr. Jones (Rijkswaterstaat) and Mr. Wyckmans (European Economic and Social Committee). The discussion, touched upon several topics, such as the need to develop a circular mindset, the need for training and skills, the consideration of social aspects in tenders, the barriers for SMEs to apply for tenders (including certifications) and the support required, the integration of circularity in all the procurement cycles, or how to boost the uptake of secondary raw materials in tenders.
If you want to know more, you can join the ongoing discussion here!