Sustainable public procurement is not only limited to deal with environmental impacts but aims at the wider perspective where the social and economic dimensions are considered as well. At the same time sustainable procurement can also include benefits within health and politics.
Sustainable public procurement might contribute to several societal goals and described below are a few of the effects that public procurements might result in.
Sustainable public procurement is an important instrument for authorities to achieve environmental objectives
When including environmental criteria in public procurement, environmental objectives and generational goals might be achieved.
Sustainable public procurement might contribute to solve environmental issues like:
- Emissions of greenhouse gases (through procuring products and services with lower environmental footprint during their life-cycle).
- Water usage (through requirements on water saving HVAC-equipment).
- Energy efficiency and resource usage (through procuring products based on eco-design).
- Air-, water- and soil pollution (through supervising the use of chemicals and limiting the use of toxic substances).
- Waste (through procuring processes or packing which generate less waste and/or putting requirements on re-usage or recycling).
- Sustainable agriculture (through procuring organically produced food).
- Deforestation (through procuring wood and wooden products from legally felled forestry).
Sustainable public might be norm-establishing for private consumers
Sustainable public procurement have the possibility to establish norms for the private sector as well as for society at large, thereby affecting the market. Through developing a sustainable public procurement strategy, communicate its initiative and result, procuring organisations can be able to show that effects like this is possible and might lead to positive results.
Sustainable public procurement might increase awareness of environmental issues
Sustainable public procurement might also increase awareness of environmental issues. This might be for example by identifying the environmental impact from certain products/services during its life-cycle and highlight benefits resulting from environmentally friendly alternatives. For example organically produced food is more likely to increase awareness among consumers and suppliers.
Sustainable public procurement might contribute to social sustainability on a national as well as an international level
Social requirements are very relevant for a sustainable public procurement. Nationally it might lead to an improved labour market through requirements on employment and social integration. Public procurement might also improve situations abroad, especially concerning production a third country, through requirements on working conditions.
Sustainable public procurement might lead to increased equality
Through social requirements in public procurement one can make sure that the public sector acquire goods and services produced ethically through using requirements on non-discrimination between sexes or differences in ethnic and/or cultural background.
Sustainable public procurement might save both money and resources when life-cycle costing is considered
Sustainable public procurement might lead to savings for both procuring entities and for society at large if one applies a life-cycle costing mindset. When including all costs emerging during a product/service’s life cycle (for example operation and maintenance costs) and not only looking at purchasing price, one can reduce the total cost. One example for this is procuring energy efficient IT where money can be saved both through lower energy usage and by simplifying reuse/recycling at end of life. Goods and services with better efficiency often have a higher purchase price but will generally allow for the organisation to save money I the long run.
Sustainable public procurement might lead to innovation
Sustainable procurement of goods and services is, in contrast to innovation procurement, not a driving force for innovation. However, it might give signals to the market on where there is a need for new solutions, which in turn might provide incentive for developing new goods and services. Applying sustainability to the public procurement process might lead to an important incentive for the industry to develop “green” technology and goods.
Sustainable public procurement might contribute to a circular economy
Today the norm is a linear economy where used products end up at the waste ground. This contribute to an impoverishment of resources. In a circular economy focus lies instead on minimising resources going to waste by simplifying for recycling, deconstruction and re-using. Sustainable public procurement can contribute by procuring more services instead of purchasing products and through this contribute to development of new business models.
Sustainable public procurement might result in lower prices for eco-products
When introducing sustainable criteria in procurement a possible outcome is to affect the market and contribute to new actors within the field of “green” technology and products. This in turn might lead to increased competition and lower prices in the long run.
Health related benefits
Sustainable public procurement might improve quality of life
Sustainable public procurement might result in an improved service to society and through this increase quality of life. For example, cleaner public transport will improve air quality. Less toxic chemicals in cleaning products will result in a healthier working environment.