Success factors

In order to have a successful sustainable procurement round, here are some tips and advice on what to keep in mind.

A good way to succeed in your sustainable procurement is to base your decisions on the ambitions expressed in your organisation’s policies, environmental objectives, preferences and needs. It is important to verify and demonstrate how the procurement will contribute to the overall environmental objectives that an organisation may have formulated, such as a reduced environmental impact or toxin-free day-to-day operations. Preferably identify the areas that are of strategic importance for purchasing, such as areas in which purchasing has a major environmental impact, bears substantial social risks or entails significant volumes.

Prioritise the areas in which it is most important for your organisation to stipulate sustainability requirements. It is important to ensure that you have sufficient environmental expertise and resources, not just to identify potential and to be able to stipulate the right requirements in a procurement round, but also to be able to realise this potential by implementing an effective follow-up mechanism. These are a few of the factors that are decisive in ensuring a productive outcome from sustainable procurement.


  • Make sure that you have sufficient resources for the needs assessment – which is the true need that should be governing the goods/services being procured. A good question to ask numerous times is “why?” For example, is the answer to the true need “we have to meet (taking a reduced environmental impact into account)” a vehicle, or is it another form of transportation or perhaps a service, such as a virtual conference. The answer may be that one or several of these options need to be procured, but these have to be combined with meeting guidelines that govern the preferred behavioural shift toward reducing the environmental impact.
  • The investment costs at the time of purchase are not the only indicators of a product’s overall costs during its lifetime. Use life-cycle cost analyses in the needs assessments as well to compare the overall costs of a product. Substantial carbon emission reductions can be achieved when purchasing high energy products and services. 
  • Include environmental expertise in the procurement reference group – if this is unavailable internally, it may be available externally. 
  • Think about how to ensure proper contract management as early as in the needs assessment stage. The amount of resources that have been reserved for verification and follow-ups of key requirements affects which and how many sustainability requirements should be stipulated in the procurement process. 
  • Have a dialogue with and analyse the market to assess what new opportunities, solutions, products and services are available that can meet your needs with less impact on the environment.
  • Calculate the environmental benefits to see the results and to demonstrate the value that the purchases are contributing to the organisation. Communicate this to your organisation and users, preferably related to the objectives.

When imposing requirements

  • Be clear and specific concerning the ambitions of the procurement – for example, name the procurement “Procurement of sustainable xxx”.
  • A contracting authority has substantial flexibility in imposing proactive and progressive sustainability requirements. This can contribute to active product development among producers and suppliers.
  • Services can also entail various nature and environmental risks. Consultancy services for planning have different risks than contracting services, which in turn have different risks than operating nursing homes and so forth. Make sure that the requirements that you stipulate alleviate the greatest risks. 
  • Only require suppliers to have an environmental-management system when it is applicable and warranted. The requirement must be proportional, meaning related to the goods/services being procured. The requirement pertains to the supplier’s organisational capacity to complete an assignment. This is often warranted in the case of services and contracting assignments with a major environmental impact. 
  • Just as with all of the other requirements that are stipulated in a procurement round, sustainability requirements must be proportional and related to the goods/services being procured. For example, imposing a requirement on the wiper-fluid being used by service cars is not a proportional requirement to stipulate when procuring lifts (elevators). 
  • If the “lowest price” is being used as an evaluation model, the sustainability requirements must be stipulated as absolute requirements (qualification requirements and/or technical specifications). 
  • If the “most economically advantegeous tender” is being used an evaluation model, environmental and social requirements can be stipulated as a combination of the qualification requirements, technical requirements and/or awarding criteria. In this case, it is important to remember to assign high priority to these specific requirements during the evaluation to make sure that it influences the awarding of the contract.
  • In the tender evaluation, consideration can be given to factors that have a direct economic advantage (such as the costs of maintenance, energy consumption and waste management), but also to other factors (like emissions, climate impact and health protection), which cannot be directly calculated.
  • Occasionally, specific contract conditions can be used to “phase in suppliers”. Contract conditions do not have to be fulfilled until the start of the contract or by a certain point thereafter. Accordingly, this may entail more tenderers participating in the procurement and not being disregarded right at that stage due to environmental requirements or social requirements.
  • Requesting specific labelling is not currently permitted. However, the criteria that forms the basis for a certain type of labelling can be used. A proposal for a label can be cited as conceivable evidence, in which case you must also always add “or of equal value” and you must know how to calculate this “or of equal value” factor, meaning which criteria in the labelling was associated with the contract.
  • Feel free to use the procurement criteria issued by the National Agency for Public Procurement that you find proportional in your procurement. Select and download the requirements that you would like in the criteria wizard and enclose them in the tender documents.


Communicate the agreement within the organisation so that the buyers are made aware of what products are sustainable. An impact is achieved by changing behavioural patterns and making the right purchase calls.

The sustainability requirements must be clearly specified, related to the goods/services being procured (including their life-cycle), open to evaluation and control, and comport with any other technical specifications related to the goods/services being procured.

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