In the 20th century, we dug up, chopped down, drilled for or harvested 34 times more construction materials, 27 times more ore and minerals, 12 times more fossil fuels and 3.6 times more biomass than in all years before. Today, two-thirds of us live in cities, draining nature of materials to build homes, schools, hospitals, roads, transport systems and factories. Urbanization, together with a growing middle-class, has increased demand for consumer goods.
Hence, re-thinking how we manufacture industrial products and deal with them at the end of their useful life could provide breakthrough environmental, social and economic benefits, according to a new report by the International Resource Panel and UN Environment, released at the World Circular Economy Forum, in October 2018.
The report highlights that if products were re-manufactured, comprehensively refurbished, repaired and directly re-used, the amount of new material needed could be significantly reduced – by 80-98%for re-manufacturing, 82-99 %for comprehensive refurbishing, and 94-99 per cent for repair.
The implementation of value-retention processes (VRP) can be steered by governments through public procurement strategies with a leading-by-example approach. For instance, through policies, which provide a level playing-field for VRP product options in order to establish new markets for early-stage product innovations or low rates of adoption for innovative processes.
As one example, the project Circular PP aims to address the societal challenge of resource efficiency through procurement. It demonstrates how public authorities can exploit synergies between public and private stakeholders in their procurement, with the goal of creating innovative circular processes and products.
If you like to know more about how to integrate circularity into public procurement, consult our guide.
The full report mentioned above is available here.
This month, the EU Commission put forward a new bioeconomy strategy including 14 specific steps towards implementation. The underlying aim of the strategy is to help address global challenges such as climate change by providing innovative solutions that deliver on targets around circular resource management and local economies.
"It has become evident that we need to make a systemic change in the way we produce, consume and discard goods. By developing our bioeconomy – the renewable segment of the circular economy – we can find new and innovative ways of providing food, products and energy, without exhausting our planet's limited biological resources. Moreover, rethinking our economy and modernising our production models is not just about our environment and climate. There is also great potential here for new green jobs, particularly in rural and coastal areas.” - Jyrki Katainen (Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness)
Public procurement can play an important role in the transition to a biobased economy. InnProBio, a European project that finished earlier this year, focused on bio-based innovation in public procurement. The results aim to assist European public entities in their purchasing decisions and actions when it comes to bio-based products and services. Click here to see all available resources published by the project.
The full bioeconomy strategy can be accessed here.
Being stuck in traffic or experiencing delays is very common. In Belgium, for instance, the average driver typically spends up to 39 hours in congested traffic. Clearly there is a huge need for traffic management solutions which engage with all the complexities of mobility - and this is exactly what the City of Ghent has devised with its TMaaS - Traffic Management as a Service, which recently won the Civitas ‘Bold Measure Award’.
The ICLEI member used innovation procurement to purchase a traffic management platform which could revolutionise mobility in Ghent. How is this going to change traffic more specifically? If everything rolls-out as planned, users can be informed about issues around their mode of transport, and City of Ghent employees will be able to use the information to adjust traffic lights, inform residents, evaluate and prepare mobility measures when needed.
The traffic platform provides governments and citizens with a wealth of traffic information in real time aimed to optimise urban mobility. It combines mobility information from data and transport companies and other players and communicates them automatically to citizens. As a cloud-based platform, no major hardware investments are required. It is directed at public procurers working for small- and medium-sized cities.
The European Union’s innovation agenda was given a boost at this year’s EcoProcura conference in Nijmegen (the Netherlands) with the official launch of a new initiative funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
Procure2Innovate is an ambitious four-year project that aims to create a lasting European network of expertise in innovation procurement. The network is formed by “competence centres” in more than 10 European countries – centres from which experts provide advice and key services to public procurers nationwide looking to purchase innovative services and products. These could be in such areas as ICT and healthcare.
Public procurement accounts for about 14 per cent of GDP in the European Union and offers an enormous potential market for innovative products and services. This is especially the case for small- and medium-sized enterprises (or SMEs) for which the EU is particularly keen to create access to new customers.
To learn more about the project, visit the Procure2Innovate website.
The challenges of our times require new ways of doing things - new products and new services which meet our social and economic needs, but within environmental boundaries. Public procurement can play a big role in shaping future markets through innovation procurement, but before we can change procurement processes, it is necessary to change mindsets. That’s why, this year’s EcoProcura set out to inspire and motivate more procurers to grasp all the opportunities already available to do innovation procurement.
In addition to plenary speakers discussing how best to empower people through cultural and behaviour change, the conference also marked the official launch of the new Procure2Innovate network, which aims to improve the institutional support available for public procurers by enhancing existing and establishing new competence centres in innovation procurement across Europe. DG Connect also presented €250 million worth of funding for innovation procurement expected over the next two years through the Horizon 2020 programme, and several cities and stakeholders led market lounge tables, where they shared their own experiences of using innovation procurement for more sustainable, circular and strategic results.
A dedicated breakout session was also held, examining all the factors likely to influence which approach to innovation procurement is most appropriate in different situations, and how to embed these in your organisation. Five experts brought perspectives on a range of issues, including inputs from DG Grow, KOINNO (German competence centre for innovation procurement), and the National Agency for Public procurement (Sweden).
For more information, visit the EcoProcura newsroom.
This year’s Ecoprocura conference in Nijmegen is exploring how governments can step up the game and do more to implement the solutions that are already available to environmental and social problems.
Dr. Bertrand Piccard, pilot of the Solar Impulse - the solar airplane which flew around the world - kicked off the day with a powerful call to action. We are living with past technologies - combustion engines, badly insulated homes, incandescent bulbs. But “the challenge is not technology, it’s psychology” - procurers need to change mindsets and become change makers!
Dr. Piccard was followed by a number of speakers, from cities such as Nijmegen, Ghent, Barcelona, as well as the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, who shared stories of their own bold actions to encourage greater sustainability and innovation through procurement. A range of actionable insights in specific sectors was also discussed through a range of breakout sessions.
For more on the EcoProcura conference, visit the conference news corner here.