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US Presidential memorandum calls for increased federal procurement of bio-based products

28 February 2012

On 21 February US President Barack Obama signed a memorandum entitled 'Driving Innovation and Creating Jobs in Rural America through Biobased and Sustainable Product Procurement.' The BioPreferred Program, is intended to increase federal procurement of biobased products, which will promote rural economic development, create new jobs, and provide new markets for farm commodities.

According to the memorandum, the federal government, with leadership from the United States Department of Agriculture, has made significant strides in implementing the Program. The goal of the memorandum is to ensure that agencies effectively execute federal procurement requirements for biobased products. The memorandum directs agencies to take a number of steps intended to increase federal procurement of biobased and other sustainable products.

These include ensuring that 95 percent of applicable new contract actions for products and services advance sustainable acquisition, including biobased acquisition, where such products and services meet agency performance requirements. 64 categories of biobased products for preferred federal procurement, representing an estimated 9,000 individual products have already been designated and there are efforts to increase this by 50 percent within one year of the date of the memorandum.

For more information, click here.

Western Cape Province sees sustainable procurement as key to becoming green economic hub

24 February 2012

The Western Cape Province (South Africa) has announced its plans to become the “green economic hub” of South Africa by encouraging renewable energy. The comments were made Premier of the province, Helen Zille. “Our government is finalising the draft Green Procurement White Paper, which will provide general principles and guidelines for integrating environmental criteria into supply chain management,” she said.

One of the objectives is to reduce energy and water use by 10 percent in provincial offices and other buildings, such as hospitals. The province is also preparing to build wind and solar energy farms. Zille also promised a game-changing infrastructure plan in 2012, stating that "The most powerful economic lever in the hands of a provincial government is the ability to build growth-creating infrastructure".

There are plans for three regeneration projects in Cape Town, namely the Founders' Garden/Artscape precinct, the development of a government precinct and the development of the Somerset Hospital precinct. The Cape Town convention centre would also be doubled in capacity and there are plans for a project to provide broadband internet access to every citizen, school and government facility in the province.

For more information, click here.[In Spanish]

Greater London Authority releases procurement report

21 February 2012

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has released a report entitled, Delivering Responsible Procurement, which documents the impressive progress made by the Authority in the past three and a half years. Mayor of London Boris Johnson, says, “The GLA group’s responsible approach to procurement has made a significant positive impact on those who work, live in and visit our world-class city. This includes supporting local businesses, providing jobs and skills for Londoners, and improving their quality of life.”

The GLA has had a number of success stories and is keen to share its experience. These include making significant steps in using its procurement activity to open up employment opportunities to Londoners including; more than 1,200 long-term unemployed Londoners into work (2009-2011) and more than 1,900 new apprenticeships (2009-2011). The GLA group has also helped improve the cash flow of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) through the prompt payment of their invoices and enabled businesses with access to more contract and sub-contract opportunities.

From an environmental point of view the report explains how the Transport for London (TfL), London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police Service have reduced their annual carbon emissions by 7,000 tonnes, saving £1m from their annual energy bills through the RE:FIT programme. While the introduction of five hydrogen fuel cell buses, an electric vehicle procurement framework and structure for the supply of charging points and a five percent increase in TfL’s Head Office energy efficiency initiatives.

To download the report, click here.

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.

For more information, click here.

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.

For more information, click here.

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.