Minimal Environmental Criteria (CAM) in GPP, the Italian case!

The GREENER survey on emerging skills and training needs of SMEs and public administrations highlighted some practices for the management of public and private, green and circular procurement procedures in Europe. One of these is the mandatory adoption of CAM by public procurement agencies in Italy.

Let’s take a moment to see what CAM is all about.

The Minimum Environmental Criteria (CAM – Criteri Minimi Ambientali in Italian) are the environmental and ecological requirements adopted by the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition with the aim at directing Public Administration towards rationalization of consumption and purchases.

Although CAM is a widespread practice in many countries and sectors, also considering the product quality certifications standards, what is peculiar in the Italian situation is the compulsory compliance with these criteria. In Italy, the compulsory of CAM compliance has been defined by the law (art. 18 Law 28 December 2015 n. 122 and then by the art. 24 on “Energy and environmental sustainable criteria” (legislative decree 50/2016 in the “Procurement Code”, modified by legislative decree56/2017).

By these, the Ministry defined that, in the tenders, the Contracting Authorities in the purchase of goods, works and services falling within the categories identified by the National Action Plan on Green Public Procurement PAN GPP must include- regardless of the value of the amount – the technical specifications and contractual clauses identified by the CAM.

This obligation aims to guarantee the environment impacts reductions, the support of sustainability models of production and consumption and the cost saving for the contracting authorities.

Who and how are CAMs fixed?

The CAM are defined from a market analysis on a specific sector identifying a wide range of requirements among those provided from the European Commission and the European GPP Toolkit or those related to the official eco-labels. Moreover, in this process, environmental standards and information provided from stakeholders as, category associations, companies, consumers, users, and PA are fundamental as well.

The Minimum Environmental Criteria are addressed to the specific product categories of reference but have a common basic structure. For each category they include environmental reference regulations, indication on tender procedures and the approach that has been followed to define each CAM. Moreover, CAM include a specification for verifications in which indications are provided to demonstrate compliance with the prescribed requirements. Concretely, these verification methods can make the application of CAM complex and difficult, since, implicitly, the contracting authorities and economic operators are required to have specialized technical and legal skills that are not always within everyone’s reach.

This problem often impacts those SMEs, which, both due to the lack of skills and the lack of flexibility in applying the requirements prescribed on low-value contracts, are often automatically excluded from the market.

In this context, GREENER assumes a key role that aims at supporting companies’ participation in Green Public Procurement. During the first months of the project, the GREENER consortium conducted a survey addressed to SMEs in Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, and Spain the companies on the skill gap to the GPP with the aim to identify needs and define emerging skills in administrative profile, to foster and support SMEs to have an increasingly relevant role towards the green growth.