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Commission unveils plan to boost bio-based economy

15 February 2012

Developing standards and labels for bio-based products are among 12 actions proposed by the European Commission as part of its bio-economy plan published on 13 February 2012. The strategy closely follows recommendations made by an ad-hoc advisory group at the end of 2011. Labels for products such as bio-plastics would help boost market uptake through, for example, green public procurement.

"It is currently impossible to differentiate bio-based products from traditional ones", explains Joanna Dupont of trade association Europabio. "Product standards should also help provide a market framework for this emerging sector and prove that it is a sustainable one," she continues. For example, the standards could be used to verify claims about the bio-degradability of these products.

No new EU legislation will be proposed as the commission believes existing instruments in the common agricultural policy (CAP) and the Horizon 2020 R&D plan are sufficient to achieve the strategy's ambitions. According to the commission, Horizon 2020, which allocates €4.5bn to food security, sustainable agriculture and the bio-economy, could create 130,000 jobs in this area. The plan does not propose setting indicative or binding targets for certain bio-based product categories as recommended by the ad-hoc advisory group. A spokesman said this could be further debated through stakeholder platforms.

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Stakeholders invited to participate in EU GPP criteria revision for road signs

14 February 2012

A study to inform the revision process of the existing EU GPP criteria for the product group of road construction and traffic signs is currently being launched by the Joint Research Centre's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (JRC-IPTS). To ensure the review is comprehensive, all concerned parties are invited to contribute, such as manufacturers, trade bodies, the supply chain industry, consumer organisations and NGOs.

Similar to other product groups worked on by JRC-IPTS, participating stakeholders will be regularly informed about the progress of the study, will have access to preliminary results and draft documents and will be invited to respond to questionnaires and participate at stakeholder meetings.

The purpose of the revision is to have updated, clear and ambitious environmental criteria, based on a life-cycle approach and scientific evidence base. Environmental, safety, technical and functional aspects will also be considered during the process. All background information, as well as announcements of ad-hoc working group meetings will be available soon on the project’s official website.

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New briefing note looks at the link between public procurement and sustainable development

13 February 2012

In collaboration with the Sustainable Consumption & Production Branch in UNEP, the Procurement Capacity Development Centre (PCDC) is presenting a new briefing note on Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP). The briefing note looks at the link between public procurement and sustainable development, presents the economic, social and environmental factors included in SPP and explains approaches to SPP.

The paper states that, "It has become increasingly clear among policy makers that public procurement can play a much more strategic role, and that specifically, it can contribute to achieving sustainable development goals. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development encourages public procurement practices that stimulate development and diffusion of environmentally sound goods and services. It also promotes the integration of the three components of sustainable development - economic development, social development and environmental protection - as interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars."

The briefing note is currently available in English and Spanish, with French coming soon. The PCDC has developed and gathered a wide range of key resources, which provides a wealth of information relevant to procurement capacity development. The resources are categorised by focus area and, where applicable, regions and countries. All documents and links are further grouped by document category e.g. methodologies and toolkits, newsletters.

To participate in the online discussion on SPP, click here.

Common Fisheries Policy report says EU must overhaul fisheries eco-labelling

9 February 2012

A key report on the future of European fisheries markets has called on the European Commission to establish a new higher standard for eco-labelling across all fisheries products sold in the EU. The author of the report Struan Stevenson MEP told delegates at the ‘Shaping the future of the Common Fisheries Policy’, conference on 8 February, including EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki, that he recommends that the industry sweep away the many differing and confusing eco-labels currently used and set a standard that consumers and the industry can more easily recognise and understand.

Struan Stevenson, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Common Market Organisation (CMO) of fisheries and aquaculture said, “Following extensive consultation with industry stakeholders, my report on CMO reform involves a host of measures to improve fisheries markets, ranging from measures on producer organisations to the question of discards. I have come to the conclusion that providing consumers with clear, easily understood information on fisheries and aquaculture products is absolutely essential.”

Stevenson continued by recommending that the European Commission establish minimum rules for a voluntary EU eco-label, setting the bar at a higher level than the mandatory rules and regulations that govern the sector just now. I would even suggest extending this voluntary label to companies outside the EU exporting to our markets to ensure there is a level playing field. The recommendations will be submitted for consideration to the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee in March. If formally agreed by the Committee, they will form the basis of the European Parliament’s position on a crucial aspect of the Common Fisheries Policy reform package, unveiled by The EU Fisheries Commissioner in July 2011.

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Eco lighting project kicks off with new website

6 February 2012

The ECO-LIGHTING consortium has launched a new website to mark the start of the project. The consortium is made up of industry representatives, NGOs, associations, and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, and will review the Ecolabel and GPP criteria and establish guidelines related to light sources.

The consortium will work in close collaboration with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra and Seville and the European Commission's Directorate General for Environment. The study welcomes active participation from stakeholders in the EU Ecolabel & GPP criteria revision process.

By registering as a stakeholder, you can stay informed of the latest additions to this site and engage in the consultation by responding to questionnaires, submitting comments and/or registering to participate at the next stakeholder meetings. All stakeholders are encouraged to officially register for free to ensure they receive the latest information and updates.

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Philippine green procurement project to focus on environment-friendly products and services

1 February 2012

A green public procurement project that will promote the use of environment-friendly products and services in the market was launched by different government agencies and other institutions in the Philippines in January. Those present also signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the pilot project and included Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Analiza Teh, Trade and Industry Undersecretary Zenaida Malaya, Philippine Center for Environmental Protection, Sustainable Development Inc. Dr. Nereus Acosta; Dr. Lilia De Lima of Philippine Economic Zone Authority and Shantanu Roy of the International Green Purchasing Network (IGPN).

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje expressed optimism that the signing of the MoU would hasten the implementation of the Green Procurement Program in the public sector, “With the MoU, and with government being the country’s biggest consumer of goods and services, we hope to encourage more companies, especially small and medium enterprises, to shift to environment-friendly business practices, provide choices by making green products and delivering green services not only for the government’s supply chain but for every consumer in the country as well”.

Under the MoU, the agencies and organisations involved will undergo training on green procurement and enlist the participation of all officials, related offices, businesses and other stakeholders involved in their supply chain. They will also assist the PCEPSDI, which acts as the NELP-GCP Secretariat, in data gathering, report preparation, and promotion and advocacy campaign for the Green Procurement Program.

For more information, click here.

Swedish government explores procurement of Health Care Electrical and Electronic Equipment

27 January 2012

The Swedish government's expert body on environmental and sustainable procurement aspects- the Swedish Environmental Management Council (SEMCo), is currently responsible for developing EU GPP criteria for Electrical and Electronic Equipment used in the health care sector (Health Care EEE) within the EU.

In order to gain a better understanding of the process and circumstances related to the procurement of Health Care EEE in the European countries, SEMCo is seeking input from key stakeholders on their experiences in this area. The four main queries are: how does public procurement of health care equipment work in your country? Who is involved in the process (doctors, procurement officers, technical expertise, etc.)? Are there framework agreements or do you procure equipment when a certain need arises? On which level is procurement undertaken - national, regional, county councils etc.?

Maria Azzopardi, project manager at SEMCo says, “We have learned that the process seems to work quite differently in the Member States, and are therefore interested in this data”. Anyone interested in participating in the project, can contact Maria Azzopardi at (+46 8 700 66 96) or Natalie Tordnell at (+46 8 5010 55 57).

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New and revised GPP criteria published

25 January 2012

New EU GPP criteria for indoor lighting have just been published by the European Commission. The criteria address key environmental impacts such as, energy consumption, use of hazardous materials, packaging and use of resources in production.

Updated criteria have also been published for office IT equipment, transport, electricity, cleaning products and services, textiles, gardening products and services, hard floor-coverings and street lighting and traffic signals. Further updates for another six product groups are expected soon. Criteria are in development for taps and showerheads, toilets, heating systems, office buildings, imaging equipment and medical devices. For some groups, there is still an opportunity to contribute views.

Since 2008, the EU GPP criteria have been developed under a multi-stakeholder process based on scientific research into the life-cycle of each product and service covered and input from public authorities, industry and others. The criteria are developed in both core and comprehensive versions, allowing procurers to choose the level of environmental ambition which best meets their needs. Criteria currently exist for 19 groups.

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Irish government launches first green procurement plan

23 January 2012

The Irish government has launched Ireland’s first action plan on green procurement, entitled Green Tenders, with the overall objective to assist public authorities in aiming for green public procurement (GPP). Public authorities are major consumers, spending some €14 billion annually. Ireland’s public sector has considerable leverage to stimulate the marketplace in favour of the provision of more resource-efficient, less polluting, goods, services and works.

The plan would see public authorities give priority to environmentally friendly projects and make purchases that stimulate the green market. According to the plan, "By using their purchasing power to choose, goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact, public authorities can make an important contribution towards local, national and international sustainability goals.”

The action plan focuses on eight priority areas: Construction, Energy, Transport, Food and Catering Services, Cleaning Products and Services, Paper, Uniforms and Textiles, and ICT. The government officials behind the plan describe it as, "a major milestone, not just in effectively introducing a sustainable development mindset within public procurement practices, but also in ensuring that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely."

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UK councils pledge to implement sustainable timber product procurement

20 January 2012

Councils across the UK are making a pledge to procure their forest products responsibly, as part of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) What Wood You Choose? campaign. Currently more than 1.5 million cubic metres of timber imported into the UK is from illegal sources, with local authorities often neglecting to keep records of the timber products they buy. To address this, the campaign encourages local authorities to make a pledge to improve their timber purchasing.

There are three levels of pledges, bronze, silver and gold. To make a gold pledge, the council must ensure that it will only buy recycled, certified or sustainable and legal timber products across all its departments and is required to set up a recording and monitoring system to ensure forest products it procures meet the requirements of its policy.

Several councils have developed case studies to demonstrate the impressive steps they are taking. Examples include the Highland Council, which makes sure it sources only FSC-certified timber for its house-building, buys only recycled and FSC paper, and plans to use wood chip in its 20 biomass boilers and Glasgow Council, which uses locally-sourced FSC timber for the construction of its council houses.

For more information, click here.