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Sustainable procurement benefits people and the environment

Publication date: 26 February 2018
Modificationdate: 28 February 2018

RIVM has developed a method to calculate the effects of Sustainable Procurement and applied the method to eight product groups: energy, gas, solar panels, company cars, business trips, workwear, contract transport and transport services. Many purchasing services of the Dutch Government aim to include the effects of products and services on human health and the environment in the procurement process as sustainable procurement (SP) encompasses more than just price and quality considerations.

SP can result, for example, in reduced greenhouse emissions. Within the eight product groups, SP resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emission of more than 4.9 megaton CO2 during the contract period of the supplied products and services. This is equivalent to the average annual emissions from transport and energy of more than 600,000 households. Other benefits due to SP were a reduction in the emission of toxic substances, more recycling and job opportunities for people with a distance to the labour market. 

At the same time, the RIVM analysis shows that SP is not always applied. Furthermore, the ambition with which SP is applied differs strongly between tenders. Applying SP does not guarantee impact because minimum demands are not always more stringent than what is available on average on the market. Furthermore, these demands and criteria are not always included in the final contracts. 

The method and its application show that the effects of SP can be estimated with relative basic information (e.g. the distance travelled). Purchasing services that want to gain insight into the impact of their SP are advised to start administrating this data. Furthermore, effect calculations require life cycle assessment based translation tables, which are available for some product groups (e.g. transport and energy) but should be developed for others (e.g. workwear and catering).

Through sustainable procurement, the Netherlands and RIVM contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 12.

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