Green procurement is a process through which purchasers seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared with goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured.
Green purchasing is also about setting an example and influencing the market place. Total public procurement in the EU – i.e. the purchases of goods, services and public works by governments and public utilities – is estimated at about 19 % of the Union’s gross domestic product or 2 trillion Euros. Its importance varies significantly between Member States ranging between 11 % and 20 % of their gross domestic product. By using their purchasing power when choosing goods and services that respect the environment, buyers can make an important contribution towards sustainable development. Consistent demand for Eco-efficient products will motivate suppliers to offer more products and services that comply with modern quality and environmental requirements. For companies as well as for public authorities, innovation-driven procurement will become one of the key competences to keep the pace of innovation sufficiently high.
The selection of offers in green public procurement is based on the evaluation of life cycle costs (purchasing, operating and disposal costs) and not only on the lowest initial purchasing price. Although they may be more expensive at the time of purchase, environmentally friendly products can be cheaper in the long term. Calculation tools help to accurately define life cycle costs by including various parameters such as electricity usage, supplied materials and maintenance costs.
Green procurement helps to solve environmental issues by reducing toxic- and greenhouse gas emissions. By choosing green products and services, less hazardous substances are released and natural resources are conserved. This leads to reduced health risks. Procurement is a powerful tool that can be used by public authorities and companies to reduce their CO2 emissions and advance their environmental objectives.