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Measuring the Environmental Soundness of Public Procurement in Nordic Countries

image of Measuring the Environmental Soundness of Public Procurement in Nordic Countries

The importance of Greener Public Purchasing, GPP, has increasingly been recognised by those who work to promote sustainable development. In the communication on Integrated Product Policy, IPP, the EU Commission encourages Member States to draw up publicly available action plans to green their public procurement. The Nordic Council of Ministers has stressed the importance of GPP in the strategy for sustainable development and has initiated co-ordination efforts so that public buyers in all the Nordic countries can benefit from each other’s experience. The aim of this study was to develop a method to measure the environmental soundness of public procurement and to produce information on the kind of environmental criteria that are used for different product groups. The study also focused on the situation of greener public procurement in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, more specifically, on the larger public purchases, which are governed by directives. The results showed that public purchasers seek to consider environmental aspects quite often. However, attention needs to be paid to how relevant product-specific environmental aspects are defined and the criteria formulated.

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Introduction

The importance of Greener Public Purchasing, GPP, is increasing in the context of sustainable development. The United Nations launched in Johannesburg in 2002 a 10-year action programme in which public procurement has an important role in increasing demand for ecologically better products (UN 2002). The OECD gave a recommendation in 2002 to improve the environmental performance of public procurement. In Europe, GPP has been recognised as one of the most important tools of Integrated Product Policy, IPP. The primary aim of IPP is to reduce the environmental impacts of products throughout their life-cycle, harnessing, where possible, a market driven approach within which competitiveness concerns are integrated (EU Commission 2003). Increased demand for greener products by GPP, in competition with the more traditional products, is well suited to the market driven approach of IPP.

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