NEWS SEARCH RESULTS ( 1 - 9 from 9 )

Training module shows procurement professionals how to influence labour conditions

30 May 2014

Procurement professionals can have a significant impact on improving labour conditions in the textile industry by working closely with factories and using their influence positively. The WellMade project shows them how to do so. Funded by the European Commission, the project offers training and information to introduce an ethical element to purchasing decisions.

WellMade was launched last year to help provide those working in the European clothing industry with tools to understand labour issues they have influence over, and how they can support better conditions. A procurement version quickly followed, as today requirements for price and quality go hand in hand with demands to include social criteria in tender processes.

The WellMade website provides case studies to guide employees through common difficulties they may encounter when contracting manufacturing work. Fact sheets and reports designed to help procurement professionals incorporate social criteria into their business decisions are also included. Over the next two years, the project will bring its expertise to procurers across Europe with a series of free training sessions at trade fairs and events.

For more information, click here.

New York & Buenos Aires plan to save money, reduce emissions through LED switch

27 May 2014

In a move to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions, New York City (USA) and Buenos Aires (Argentina) are replacing street lights with energy efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs). In New York, every light in the city will be replaced by 2017, saving an impressive $14 million. Replacing the 250,000 street lights marks the largest retrofit in the USA, and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a projected 30 percent.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “With roughly a quarter-million street lights in our City, upgrading to more energy efficient lights is a large and necessary feat. It will save taxpayers millions of dollars, move us closer to achieving our ambitious sustainability goals, and help us to continue reducing City government’s day-to-day costs and improving its operations.”

In Buenos Aires, increased public safety also contributed to the decision to switch to LEDs. The white light of LEDs (as opposed to the orange glow of sodium lights) enables better facial recognition by both people and security cameras, strengthening crime prevention. The LED lights will reduce energy use by 50 percent in the city, and will last five times longer than conventional lighting, lowering maintenance costs.

For more information on New York, click here; on Buenos Aires, click here.

Dortmund tackles challenge to minimum wage in tender

23 May 2014

The German state of North Rhine Westphalia was within its rights to include minimum wage requirements in an invitation to tender, according to a legal opinion published by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Däubler, a prominent German lawyer specialising in labour law. The opinion was requested following a challenge by the Bundesdruckerei company to a tender published by the City of Dortmund.

The Bundesdruckerei company wished to use a subsidiary in Poland in fulfilling the contract, and would have been obliged to pay those working on the project a mandatory minimum wage of €8.62 per hour. They argued that this was unfairly restrictive, a point which is rebutted by Dr Däubler. Previous judgements on imposing minimum wage requirements have ruled them out as being too restrictive on companies with subsidiaries in areas or countries not subject to the same legislation.

Dr Däubler explains that this case is different as the minimum wage is specifically linked to a tender, meaning that Dortmund council is not imposing any conditions on the company’s work more generally. Although it relates to a very specific case within a federal state, the case illuminates an area of procurement law which can cause difficulties for public authorities trying to introduce more socially responsible procurement practices.

For more information, click here [in German].

Overcoming water challenges through innovative procurement

20 May 2014

Launched at the start of 2014, the Water PiPP (Public Innovation Procurement Policies) project aims to improve public procurement of innovation (PPI) in the water sector, exploring barriers to effective procurement of innovation and methodologies to overcome them. The first phase of the project will focus on gathering information on the scope for innovative procurement activities within the water sector, while the second phase will see pilot cases tested by public procurement authorities.

The water sector is fragmented by nature, comprised of a large number of small management bodies. This makes it difficult for those working in the sector to adequately assess and implement new approaches and technologies. The regulatory structure of water bodies also means that technologies with a successful track record tend to be favoured over new, innovative products.

To overcome this, the project intends to build practical and effective PPI strategies, test them in real-life settings, and disseminate the outcomes for larger scale adoption. It is coordinated by Office International de l’Eau and will run for three years. 12 institutions are participating, including the City of Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and the University of Zaragoza (Spain).

For more information, click here.

Environmental and social regulations included in Barcelona council contracts

15 May 2014

Integrating green requirements is now obligatory in Barcelona (Spain) for all contracting bodies tendering for vehicles, IT equipment, food, vehicles and office supplies as well as a range of other high priority procurement categories. The change comes following a Mayoral Decree setting out new rules on the inclusion of environmental and social criteria in procurement contracts. Contracts for council services including catering, street cleaning, waste collection and building maintenance are also subject to the regulation.

The City Council is in the process of defining precise criteria for purchasing contracts, which will be sent to all managers when completed. Awareness-raising began a month before the Mayoral Decree implementing the rules was signed, with training provided to help public officials understand the implications on their work. Written guidelines were also made available on the Council intranet, to help staff with procurement responsibilities understand and interpret the new rules.

The new regulations form part of the +Sustainable City Council Plan, set up to foster environmental awareness within municipal services in Barcelona. The rules leave space for future expansion of social and environmental criteria to other contracts awarded by the City of Barcelona.

For more information, click here [in Catalan].

HAPPI innovation platform brings products that aid the elderly to wider audience

13 May 2014

The increase in the average age of the European population brings new challenges for hospitals and elderly care services, many of which are difficult to accurately evaluate. This difficulty also spawns from the high number of actors in the so-called “Silver Economy” – the name given to the emerging market for elderly care. Currently the market can be seen as a non-mature sector with fragmented demand and supply, low standards, no market leaders, and other serious issues.

To tackle these challenges and detect the best innovative solutions available on the European market, the HAPPI project (Healthy Ageing - Public Procurement of Innovation) has chosen to implement a “market-oriented” approach through the development of an online platform, in which suppliers are invited to outline their products and services. Since the launch of the platform, over 140 innovative solutions have been brought to the attention of the consortium’s buyers. Most of these solutions are accessible by the general public through the public area of the platform, “Innovation Showcase”.

The success of the HAPPI innovation platform was helped by the holding of four information days in major European cities: London (UK), Paris (France), Turin (Italy) and Vienna (Austria). These events gathered over 400 participants, mainly SMEs, and helped buyers to research the market, raise awareness and open the dialogue between demand and supply-side.

or more information, click here.

Fair trade cotton takes centre stage in pan-European awards ceremony

8 May 2014

Public authorities from France, Austria and the UK were honoured at the inaugural European Fair Cotton Procurement Awards, held in Bremen (Germany) in March. The four winners – the City of Paris (France), the Municipality of Traun (Austria), la Poste (France) and the London School of Economics (UK) - were chosen for significantly increasing purchases of fair-trade products, as well as raising awareness around the issue of fair-trade cotton and encouraging other organisations to follow their example.

The judging process took place in two stages, with a national nomination process followed by a final selection at European level. The Judging Panel comprised the Fair Procurement project team, a member from GET CHANGED! The Fair Fashion Network, a representative of ObSAR (French Observatory of Responsible Purchasing) and a member of the Ethical Fashion Forum. Judges recognised the winners’ commitment in extending their Fair Trade purchases to cotton and the inspiration they will provide to other public bodies.

Presenting the Awards, Secretary General of the National Union of Cotton Producers’ Cooperative Societies of Mali Solobamady Keita said “This Award acknowledges the importance of the people that harvest the cotton, but also the people that wear the Fair Trade clothing. The Fair Trade cotton producers are thankful to the forerunners that have been rewarded today, and would like to see other public authorities in Europe procuring Fair Trade cotton for their work wear”.

For more information, click here.

European cities turn waste into a renewable energy source

6 May 2014

The conversion of solid waste into biomethane may help reduce landfill and meet cities’ energy needs, according to findings from the UrbanBiogas project. The three-year project, which was funded by the Intelligent Energy for Europe (IEE) programme, helped five partner cities to confront the dual challenges of waste reduction and energy production by converting significant amounts of waste into biogas using anaerobic digestion. Project results showed a direct correlation between the level of political will and the likelihood of successfully integrating biogas into the municipal energy mix.

Following the 1999 EU Landfill Directive and the 2006 EU Waste Directive, there is significant pressure on local governments to reduce the amount of potentially recyclable waste being sent to landfill. The 2009 Renewable Energy Directive also placed an emphasis on the need for increased investment in renewable energy. By upgrading the biogas produced through anaerobic digestion to biomethane quality and incorporating it into the natural gas network, the UrbanBiogas project aimed to help cities comply with all three Directives.

Pilot projects in partner cities Valmiera (Latvia) and Graz (Austria) were highly successful, with local officials working closely with UrbanBiogas on tenders for the construction of biogas plants which are due to be published later in 2014. In Abrantes (Portugal), a biogas plant was constructed in 2011 and a second one is due to follow. Further developments in target cities will be available on the website and on the project’s Facebook group.

For more information, click here.

Updated EU Procurement Directives offer more scope for sustainability

2 May 2014

In January 2014, the European Parliament adopted three new public procurement directives: general Directive 2014/24/EU, Directive 2014/23/EU on the award of concession contracts and Directive 2014/25/EU, which deals with utilities. The new regulations include expanded social, sustainable and ethical criteria which give public authorities more discretion when choosing suppliers.

A key change is the expansion of the 'most economically advantageous tender' clause to include criteria such as quality, environmental considerations, social aspects and innovation when awarding contracts. Suppliers who have been convicted for child labour or other forms of human trafficking, as well as those in breach of tax payments, must now be excluded from all public tenders. Public authorities are also able to exclude suppliers who are in violation of certain environmental and social conventions, such as the Vienna Convention on the protection of the ozone layer.

Other amendments include the ability to ask suppliers which supply chain management systems they will use during the tender process. Requesting evidence of environmental management measures, previously only allowed for services and works, is now also deemed relevant for supply contracts. Taken together, these reforms provide greater scope for local authorities to create more ethical and sustainable supply chains. Member states now have until April 2016 to transpose the directives into national law, making them binding for public procurers in all member states.

For more information, click here.