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Green Procurement
What is Green Procurement?

This means that buyers take account of environmental issues when purchasing (procuring), goods, services or works. For example choosing energy efficient computers, recyclable paper or electricity from sustainable energy sources.

What is Green Public Procurement?

This is when public authorities buy goods, services or works in the above way, with the aim of fulfilling their activities in the public interest.

How Does it Effect SMEs?

The impacts of green procurement will cascade down to SMEs. You must respond positively to the green purchasing requirements of companies in your supply chains to maintain and increase market share, e.g. by using eco-labels, EPDs etc. The effects and benefits of green procurement and other IPP tools on SMEs are outlined in the section: IPP Drivers and Benefits for SMEs.


Article 6 of the Amsterdam treaty that established the European Community reinforced the need to integrate environmental protection requirements into other policies, recognising it as key to achieve sustainable development. As public procurement contributes to 16% of European Union GDP, 'greening' these purchases could have significant direct benefits on the environment and contribute substantially to sustainable development.

For a detailed policy background see the informative EC Green Public Procurement web pages. Key milestones in the development of public green procurement policy include:

  • May 2001 EC Communication "A Sustainable Europe for a Better World: A European Union Strategy for Sustainable Development" to allow Member States to consider how to make better use of public procurement to favour green products and services;

  • July 2001 EC Communication "Community law applicable to public procurement and the possibilities for integrating environmental considerations into public procurement" explaining the possibilities under current public procurement legislation to take account of environmental considerations in public purchases.
Commission Green Procurement Initiatives

The Commission is currently developing a practical "Handbook on Green Public Procurement". This will provide, for example, legal advice, best practice examples, a description of public procurement procedures and the use of eco-labels and EMAS. This handbook will take account of guidance on sustainable public procurement being developed by the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development.

Major actions undertaken by the Commission on green procurement to date are:

  • Set up Green Public Procurement web pages (where all the following information and tools are hosted or linked to);
  • Develop "Environmental Product Database" providing environmental information on 100 product or service groups;
  • Encourage public authorities to use existing public procurement legislation;
  • Encourage the use of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), eco-labels and EMS where appropriate;
  • Issue "Guidelines on Greening Public Procurement by using the European Eco-label Criteria" (November 2001) to provide information for public procurement officers and corporate purchasers;
  • Revise or adopt new public procurement Directives (e.g. Directives 2004/17/EC and 2004/18/EC issued 31 March 2004);
  • RELIEF Project to analyse the potential environmental benefits of green purchasing;
  • Eco-procurement survey to determine the extent of green public procurement in the EU
Further major actions by the Commission that are underway include:
  • Issue "Handbook on Green Public Procurement" for contracting authorities (summer 2004);
  • Encourage member state action plans for greening public procurement (2006)
Several Member State Governments are already implementing national green procurement initiatives. A page of links to information on National initiatives has been compiled by the UN Division for Sustainable Development (see link below).

Refer to:
IPP Communication and Green Procurement
Giving Consumers the Information to Decide
Status of IPP in the EC and Member States

Green procurement web pages
European Commission
Interpretative Communication on Public Procurement and the Environment
European Commission
Greening Public Procurement Using the European Eco-Label Criteria
European Commission
RELIEF Sustainable Procurement Programme
European research project on green purchasing
UN DSD Information Database
National sustainable development policies, programmes and guidelines
Available translations: EL DE IT ES 
Issued:  2004-11-02
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