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ICLEI celebrates 20 years of work on Sustainable Public Procurement

28 April 2016

Last night, ICLEI marked 20 years of work on sustainable procurement at a ceremony in Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. The event formed part of the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns and also provided the opportunity to showcase the new-look SP Platform and the revamped Procura+ European Sustainable Procurement Network. Over the last 20 years, through its activities on sustainable and innovation procurement, ICLEI has been involved in 150 projects; organised 100 conferences, seminars and workshops; trained over 2,000 people; supported 300 cities in more than 50 countries, and saved 1 million tonnes of CO2.

Over the last two decades, many ICLEI Members have been including sustainability criteria in their procurement policies and procedures to achieve resource efficient, low-carbon and socially responsible societies. ICLEI has also worked with sustainable procurement experts from cities across Europe on numerous projects and initiatives related to SPP. These include specific initiatives such as installing 20,000 energy efficient light bulbs in Copenhagen (Denmark), broad policy aims such as Rotterdam’s (The Netherlands) commitment to 100 percent green procurement from 2015 onwards and European-wide initiatives such as the GPP 2020 project, which has brought together central purchasing bodies across Europe to achieve savings of over 700,000 tonnes CO2e to date.

“In 20 years a lot has been achieved in the field of sustainable procurement. We have had the pleasure of working with committed and creative experts from cities large and small to develop and implement sustainable procurement strategies which have helped to create low-carbon, socially responsible societies.The work done so far provides a good basis for continuing to strengthen our relationships and contribute positively to the sustainable and innovation procurement community over the next 20 years,” said Mark Hidson, Global Director of ICLEI’s Sustainable Procurement Centre. Organisations or public authorities involved in sustainable procurement are invited to share their achievements and thoughts on SPP using the hashtag #SPPecialists.

For more information, visit SP Platform.

Registration now open for Sustainable Catering Forum in Ghent

25 April 2016

Ghent (Belgium) will play host to the Sustainable Catering Forum on 9 June 2016, a chance for public procurers, local and regional governments, and caterers, producers and suppliers from across Europe to exchange experiences, form partnerships, and discuss the economic, social and environmental challenges facing food systems in Europe. Guidance and knowledge gathered through the INNOCAT project will be used to shape the interactive programme.

Selected European cities will address participants on purchasing eco-innovative catering and food, touching on such topics as: making school food services healthier and more climate-friendly, minimising the environmental impact of hospital catering services, decarbonising vending machines in universities, reducing food waste and packaging, and facilitating market access for SMEs and small suppliers.

Participants will receive information on new approaches to the sustainable procurement of catering services, details of the latest EU policy developments, and get to preview new and emerging technologies in the sector. Training will also be provided on eco-innovative procurement. Participation is free of charge, with limited funds available to cover some expenses. To register, fill in the online form.

For more information, visit or contact

Tender notice released for improvement of public buildings in Treviglio

21 April 2016

An open tender notice for the refurbishment of two public buildings in the Italian city of Treviglio has been published. The notice was published in the context of the EU-funded PROBIS project by ALER Bergamo –Lecco – Sondrio in coordination with Regione Lombardia. The deadline for submitting a bid is 9 May 2016.

The tender is worth over €1.2 million and is part of a procurement of innovation procedure. Through the refurbishment, energy consumption is expected to reduce significantly, with energy spent on space heating particularly targeted. This will largely be achieved through improvement in insulation. Contractors are expected to minimise discomfort to users, such as noise, smell, and environmental harm, and should use materials and products with environmental certification.

Windows and doors should be replaced and any new elements installed should be easy to maintain. Shading and solar radiation control systems will also be added. The acoustic performance of the buildings should be improved, protecting against outside noise. The PROBIS project aims to increase the energy efficiency and sustainability of European public buildings through innovative solutions.

For more information, download the tender notice [PDF].

GPP 2020 project tenders save equivalent of more than fifteen oil tankers

20 April 2016

The equivalent of more than 900,000 tonnes of CO2 has been saved through the green procurement activities of the EU-funded GPP 2020 project. The environmental savings amount to 956,000 barrels of crude oil, or the contents of over fifteen oil tankers. Over the course of three years, more than 100 low-carbon tenders were implemented by over 40 public authorities in nine countries.

The project worked with public procurers in Europe to implement innovative, environmentally-friendly tenders. These impressive tenders were the basis for models that make it easier to purchase low-carbon goods and services. Examples range from the procurement of more energy-efficient commercial dishwashers in Germany, which saw the CO2 equivalent of 207 flights from Barcelona to Ljubljana saved, to the joint procurement of an energy performance contract for Italian hospitals, which saved the astounding equivalent of the power generated by 341 football stadiums each year.

Partners in the project yesterday presented the lessons learned and challenges faced through their GPP 2020 activities at the Low-Carbon Procurement in Practice workshop in Brussels (Belgium). Philipp Tepper, Coordinator of the GPP 2020 project, said: “Through the project’s tender models and best practice case studies, other local authorities will be given the means to make low-carbon procurement a strategic part of their activities, leading to a greener Europe with a higher quality of life for all residents.” Future planned tenders by the purchasing bodies are estimated to save another 650,000 t CO2 over the next three years.

For more information, visit the GPP 2020 website.

Organisations unite to tackle abuses among suppliers

14 April 2016

Civil society bodies, organisations from industry, trade-unions, and the Dutch government have come together to support an agreement that advocates for sustainability and better working conditions in garment and textile factories. Overseen by the Social and Economic Committee of the Netherlands, the agreement will use the combined power of the organisations involved to push for change among suppliers in countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Turkey.

Issues including child labour and forced labour will be tackled, with the Dutch government to discuss strengthening working and environmental conditions with governments in production countries. Other issues to be addressed include achieving a living wage, reducing the environmental impact of production, and improving workers’ safety.

An annual improvement plan will be drawn up that will chart the progress made in tackling the issues identified. “This [agreement] is very good news for all those people who are still working excessively long days in dangerous conditions for very low pay. It’s also good news for the industry as a whole and for the consumer, everyone will be better off as a result,” said Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch minister of foreign trade and development cooperation, speaking to Supply Management.

For more information, visit the Supply Management website.

European Commission publishes third edition of Buying Green! Handbook

12 April 2016

The new edition of the Buying Green! Handbook, the European Commission’s leading publication for assisting public sector entities to purchase goods and services that have a lower impact on the environment, has been published. The Handbook, now in its third edition, has been fully revised to detail the possibilities of how contracting bodies can put green public procurement (GPP) policies into practice under the 2014 Procurement Directives. Given the importance of public sector spending in Europe, GPP is an important tool to help achieve environmental policy goals relating to climate change, resource use and sustainable consumption and production.

Guidance is provided on how environmental considerations can be included at each stage of the procurement process within the revised EU legal framework, practical examples drawn from contracting authorities across EU Member States are presented, and sector specific GPP approaches for buildings, food and catering services, road transport vehicles and energy-using products are outlined.

The document has been written to also be of use to policy makers and companies responding to green tenders. The third edition of the Handbook has been compiled under contract between the European Commission and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, supported by Public Procurement Analysis (PPA).

For more information, visit the European Commission website.

Sustainable procurement to be debated at upcoming ESCT conference

7 April 2016

Sustainable procurement will be discussed at the 8th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns from 27-29 April in the Basque Country, with a range of sessions to be held on greener and more innovative procurement in Europe. The PPI4Waste workshop on innovative waste solutions will take place the day before the official start of the conference on 26 April, and will bring together public procurers, suppliers and consultants in the field of waste management to discuss needs and showcase state of the art solutions for specific areas of waste management.

Registration for the PPI4Waste workshop can be completed online. Other sessions include "Well Fed Cities" and "Efficient Cities", which will respectively look at how public procurement can help to make urban food systems more sustainable, resilient and healthy, and how procurement practices can help to reduce energy consumption in European buildings and boost smart technology.

ICLEI will also mark 20 years of action on sustainable public procurement with a special reception at the Guggenheim. The final day of the conference will see a discussion on implementing purchasing strategies fit for the future at the Innovation Market round table dialogues.

For more information, visit the conference website.

Students convince University of Glasgow to solely purchase conflict-free products

5 April 2016

The University of Glasgow is joining a lengthy list of American and Canadian higher-learning institutes in banning the purchase of conflict minerals by introducing a new supply-chain code of conduct. The move comes following pressure applied by the Students’ Representative Council, which advocated for the university to join the ‘Conflict Free Campus Initiative’. The initiative asks organisations to change their procurement policies to ensure that the purchase of conflict materials is reduced.

Minerals such as tin and tungsten, vital ingredients in a wide-range of mobile phones and electronic products, is mined in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Armed militias often hijack this mining, using the proceeds generated to fund violent conflict. A report by Amnesty International indicated that companies such as Apple, Google, IBM and Amazon include conflict materials within their products, having failed to full eradicate them from the supply chain.

“Students have fought long and hard to have the university acknowledge this important issue and give serious consideration to the numerous human rights abuses which are linked to the trade in conflict minerals,” said Ruth Brown, campus organiser for the Conflict Free Campus Initiative, speaking to Supply Management.

For more information, visit Supply Management.

New public procurement rules to come into force in Scotland

1 April 2016

Scotland's public procurement rules will be reformed on 18 April 2016, with two significant pieces of legislation coming into effect. The first is the implementation of EU procurement directives from 2014, which primarily apply to contracting authorities and to utilities, while the second is the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014.

The legislation encourages the supply chain to pay greater attention to prior information notices (PINs) and includes specific details related to compliance. The thresholds at which buyers must advertise have been lowered through the Procurement Reform Act to £50,000 for goods and services and £2 million for works.

From a supplier standpoint, the new legislation aims to encourage aspects beyond core delivery, such as increasing community benefits, bolstering the number of apprenticeships, and encouraging SME involvement in the market. As mandating contractors to pay the so-called living wage was declared to be illegal by the EU, the Scottish government has responded by encouraging suppliers to think about how they can enhance fair workforce practices, making it an aspect open to evaluation as part of the quality score.

For more information, visit Supply Management.