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Guide on social responsibility in supply chains published by LANDMARK

30 May 2012

The LANDMARK project has published Verifying Social Responsibility in Supply Chains, a practical and legal guide on social considerations in public procurement. The study analyses different instruments of verification that can be used at the various stages of a procurement process, such as pre-procurement, selection or exclusion criteria, technical specifications, award criteria and contract performance clauses, as well as contract management.

The guide demonstrates how verification schemes can be applied in a legally compliant manner by citing case law, providing examples of verification schemes developed and implemented across Europe, and by discussing the monitoring and measuring of compliance.

The product groups focused on were chosen based on their practical relevance for public sector procurers and the potential to have a positive impact on working conditions along the supply chain. The LANDMARK project intends the guide to be of interest, as well as of practical use, to those who wish to move towards more socially responsible procurement.

For more information, click here.

Amsterdam builds climate-neutral neighbourhood

25 May 2012

To comply with the EU Green Public Procurement (2004) directive and Energy Performance of Buildings (2010) directive, which obliges countries to improve the safety and energy performance of buildings, the City of Amsterdam (the Netherlands) is constructing a carbon-neutral neighbourhood that will be comprised solely of energy efficient buildings. The European Commission estimates that homes and commercial structures account for 40 percent of energy use and generate 36 percent of greenhouse gases.

The four-floor residential structures are designed to reduce energy waste so much that designers believe solar panels and compact wind turbines incorporated into the development will provide nearly all the community’s electricity needs. Within the neighbourhood, parks will take precedence over parking for vehicles and the residential buildings will be cooled using water piped from the River Ijmeer.

Part of the project involves building peninsulas using sand from new tunnels being dug for the expansion of the city’s underground metro system. Around 20 percent of the new buildings will be reserved for lower income residents. The EU has set out goals to cut energy demand for residential and commercial buildings by more than 80 percent by 2050 through better insulation and ecological design, and wants to reduce the environmental footprint of new construction by turning debris in building material.

For more information, click here.

JRC report aids in assessing the environmental impact of products and services

25 May 2012

A new report from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) - the scientific and technical arm of the European Commission - provides information for policy makers and business managers on how to better assess the environmental impacts of products and services. It emphasises that incorporating Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) is key to making substantial improvements in environmental performance.

LCT looks at the environmental impact of production, distribution and consumption activities from cradle to grave, quantifying the environmental impact of products from the extraction of natural resources to product recycling or waste disposal. The International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) was developed to provide guidance for greater consistency and quality assurance of Life Cycle Assessments (LCA). The report helps local authorities use this ILCD system as a technical reference, and as a support in issuing tenders for service contracts.

It is hoped that LCT will be more widely incorporated, resulting in more environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient products. LCT also has the ability to help policy makers and business actors both improve their environmental image and save money by implementing robust LCAs. Applications that currently apply LCA include ecolabelling, ecodesign, environmental and carbon footprinting, green procurement and waste management.

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Sustainable procurement of products increases in Brazil

18 May 2012

Brazilian public sustainable product procurement in the first quarter of 2012 has already totalled 83 percent of the total purchases made through sustainable tenders in 2011. In comparison with the same period in 2010 there was a 61 percent increase in Federal Government procurement of sustainable products. By March 2012 the value of sustainable products procured by government authorities in Brazil reached approximately R$12 million.

The Sustainable Procurement program is one of the government initiatives to ensure value is obtained in products consumed through applying environmental, economic and social criteria in all stages of a product’s life cycle. Since the implementation of the regulatory standard for sustainable procurement in January 2010, the Federal Government has issued 1,490 tenders for items classified as sustainable (up to March of this year).

A total of 550 products are considered sustainable by the government regulatory body. The increase in the number of purchases of this type is explained by the increase in the number of items available. The products most purchased since the implementation of the policy are recycled ink cartridges for printers (41.5 percent), recycled printer toner (23.9 percent), air conditioning equipment (7.5 percent) and recycled paper (6.2 percent). Vehicles using biofuels and cups made from corn starch are also included in the sustainable register.

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Sustainability of health care products influences purchasers

8 May 2012

Environmental sustainability and other green attributes play a large part when hospitals in Germany, Italy, Brazil and the United States make purchasing decisions on healthcare products, new research has revealed. On a ten point scale a majority of respondents (54 percent) rated the impact of “green” credentials on purchasing decisions for health care products and supplies an eight or higher.

The study also found that the same holds true for Integrated Delivery Networks. “Such a high rating means they are emotionally attached, that they feel strongly about it,” explains Dave Bauer of SK&A, an independent research firm based in California, USA that conducted the research on behalf of Medical Devices & Diagnostics Global Services.

The survey found that nearly one-third of current requests for proposals for medical products include green attributes, while key decision makers expect nearly 40 percent of future requests for proposals to include green attributes. Respondents to the survey, which was conducted from January to March 2012, included health care professionals, procurement/materials management, and hospital executives in all four countries.

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Binding measures needed to achieve green economy

4 May 2012

The opinion requested by the Danish presidency of the EU has said that to shift Europe to a green economy based on sustainable production and consumption, voluntary measures need to be supplemented by binding regulatory measures. It was further stated that greener fiscal policies and market-based incentives need to be in place to support this transition. The message was adopted by the European Economic and Social Committee at its plenary session.

An Le Nouail Marlière of the French Workers' Group, rapporteur for the opinion, stated that the EU needs to increase regulatory efforts to phase out unsustainable products, scrap subsidies that do not take full account of negative effects on the environment, and introduce green public procurement policies. The Committee's opinion places the issue of sustainable production and consumption in the context of a broader debate, calling for an overhaul of the economic model. The current model, fixated with GDP indicators and geared towards generating ever more growth and demand, is unfit to create a truly sustainable economy it is argued.

The Committee stated that while unsustainable products are being phased out, it is imperative that public authorities heavily support investment in research on new, eco-friendly products and incentivise businesses to innovate. It was also stated that it is necessary to involve civil society at global, national and local level to successfully transition to a sustainable green economy. To be widely accepted, sustainable production and consumption must be seen by businesses, consumers and workers as a desirable objective.

For more information, click here.