Green Public Procurement (GPP) in Europe

Written by Energy Agency Styria

According to the European Commission, Green Public Procurement (GPP) is "a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life-cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured.” Europe's public authorities are major consumers. By using their purchasing power to choose environmentally friendly goods, services and works, they can make an important contribution to sustainable consumption and production.

The GPP concept aims to have clear, verifiable and reliable as well as ambitious environmental criteria for products and services based on scientific verified knowledge. The GPP criteria are based on data from an evidence base, on existing ecolabel criteria and on information collected from stakeholders of industry, civil society and Member States. These criteria shall be applied among the member states, ensuring that single markets are not distorted or competition is diminished.

Currently, criteria for cleaning products and services, computers and monitors, electricity as well as furniture, textiles or street lights are available. Under the current work programme for 2018-2019, the criteria for product groups such as transport, data centres and food and catering services will be revised.

GPP is a voluntary instrument, which means that member states and public authorities can determine the extent to which they implement it. Nevertheless, the member states have been encouraged in 2008-2010 to develop National Action Plans on sustainable procurement. These action plans should assess the existing situation and set ambitious targets for the upcoming years, specifying what measures will be taken to achieve them.

The eCentral project partner countries Austria, Croatia, Italy and Slovenia already developed National Action Plans – the Hungarian one is still under development. More information on GPP in the European Union is available at the official website.

For public procurers, some advice can be given on how to ease the green procurement process. Under the EU Procurement Directives (2004/18/EC and Directive 2004/17/EC), ecolabels may be used in public procurement to ensure purchasing of sustainable products. Although procurers are not allowed to demand that a specific product or service carries an ecolabel, the underlying criteria of an ecolabel can be used in procurement tenders – the ecolabel may then be used as one form of proof of compliance. More information on how to use existing ecolabels for GPP can be found on “Ecolabel and Green Procurement”.