Green Public Procurement (GPP) is a process where public authorities seek to source goods, services or works with a reduced environmental impact. The Irish Government’s annual public sector purchasing accounts for 10% to 12% of Ireland’s GDP, a large part of economic activity and demand. This provides Ireland’s public sector with significant influence to stimulate the provision of more resource-efficient, less polluting goods, services and works within the marketplace.
The Public Sector has a responsibility to promote green procurement, in order to support Ireland’s environmental and wider sustainable development objectives. GPP is widely recognised internationally as an effective means for public administrations to manage the balance between cost effectiveness and sustainable development. Citizens need to be sure that what is purchased on their behalf has minimal harmful effects on the environment and society. At the same time, these goods, services and works must represent both short-term and long-term value for money.
The integration of green public procurement principles into the economy will further enhance Ireland’s reputation as an innovative, eco-efficient and forward-looking place to do business. Many of our public authorities have already made good progress in this regard as demonstrated by the examples of best practice outlined in the National Action Plan – ‘Green Tenders’.
In October 2019, The Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD; the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD, and Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Patrick O'Donovan TD welcomed the publication of Circular 20/2019: Promoting the use of Environmental and Social Considerations in Public Procurement.
The Climate Action Plan will require every public body to have a climate mandate. A key element of such a mandate will be using public procurement to deliver change. This circular demonstrates the Government's priority in promoting Green Public Procurement by asking Departments and Offices to consider the inclusion of green criteria in their procurements in the context of its wider commitments under the Climate Action Plan.
Minister Donohoe welcomed the circular's publication saying: 'this is a positive development and provides a clear signal of the direction of travel. Green public procurement (GPP) is about leveraging the State's purchasing power to choose more environmentally friendly goods, services and works and help contribute to more sustainable consumption and production'.
Minister Bruton also welcomed this development, saying: 'This is a crucial change, which has the potential to be a critical tool as we rollout the Climate Action Plan. It will ensure that state contracts include the full life cycle cost of our purchases. Over €12bn is invested by the state each year. This investment can now be leveraged to focus on sustainability as a key criteria, which is not only important from a climate perspective but will also ensure that true value for money is obtained'.
Green Procurement Guidance for the public sector
Guidance on green procurement was also prepared by the EPA with input from a number of State Agencies and Government Departments. This document is a practical resource tool designed to assist procurers to build green criteria into public tenders. It covers eight sectors:
- Road transport vehicles and services
- Food and Catering services
- Cleaning products and Services
- Textiles and Uniforms
- Office IT Equipment
This Department is working with colleagues in the Office of Government Procurement to implement Ireland’s National GPP Action Plan.
Green Public Procurement and the EU:
Although GPP is a voluntary instrument, it has a key role to play in the EU's efforts to become a more resource-efficient and circular economy. It can help stimulate a critical mass of demand for more sustainable goods and services which otherwise would be difficult to get onto the market. GPP is therefore a strong stimulus for eco-innovation. More information about the EU’s work in this area can be found on the European Union website's (eu.europa.eu) page on Public procurement for a better environment.
The EU publication “Public procurement for a better environment” published on 16 July 2008, provides guidance on how to reduce the environmental impact caused by public sector consumption and how to use GPP to stimulate innovation in environmental technologies, products and services.