“We are the first generation that has a clear picture of the value of nature and the enormous impact we have on it. We may also be the last that can act to reverse this trend. From now until 2020 will be a decisive moment in history” – concludes the Living Planet Report 2018, recently published by WWF. The report shows the devastating environmental consequences of our way of production and consumption for biodiversity. For instance, almost 20% of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years.
The report emphasizes that biodiversity loss is not only unfortunate in and of its own, but it risks the very foundation of human prosperity: “As we better understand our reliance on natural systems it’s clear that nature is not just a ‘nice to have’.” Healthy ecosystems offer services worth about US$125 trillion a year that enable us as human species to thrive.
The report highlights that “Consumption is the driving force behind the unprecedented planetary change we are witnessing, through the increased demand for energy, land and water”. Thus, procuring products, goods and services sustainably across sectors and along supply chains is a significant part of the solution to re-design how humans can thrive within capacities of the Earth’s ecosystems.
For a shift in processes, practices and structures, concepts such as circular procurement or sustainable public procurement (SPP) are necessary and already applied by forward thinking public authorities. To learn how your procurement department can make a change have a look at our Resource Centre.
If you want to get involved in this important transition, consider becoming a Procura+ member, joining a network of European public authorities and regions that connect, exchange and act on sustainable and innovation procurement.
The EU Parliament approved an EU wide ban of several single-use plastic items by 2021 and adopted strict recycling regulation over other plastics such as beverage bottles, food containers at rates of up to 90% by 2025. This ban is a significant contribution tackling plastic pollution in the environment. Single-use items included in the ban such as cutlery, straws or cotton buds make up over 70% of marine litter. The intention behind banning the items is “…to protect the marine environment and reduce the costs of environmental damage attributed to plastic pollution in Europe, estimated at 22 billion euros by 2030.” says Frédérique Ries (MEP ALDE, Belgium).
The single use plastic items covered by this regulation were selected since there are sustainable alternative readily available. However, this ban could have implications on how public procurement is handling catering and event management as these often rely heavily on reusable cutlery. Procurement will need to consider alternatives such as reusable cutlery and dishes, which come with a different set of service requirements.
As part of the ICLEI project InnProBio the Swedish region Skane has set a cutting-edge example for how public procurement can tackle the issue of plastic pollution. Through innovation procurement the region has managed to introduce a new product in all regional hospitals: Their disposable aprons are now made from a newly developed biobased material that meets high performance and sustainability criteria. Learn more about the procurement procedure, results and lessons learned, here.
For more information on the EU single use plastic ban go here.
How far away is a future where all IT products have a circular and sustainable life cycle?
It might come closer when there are specific criteria for helping suppliers and buyers to contribute to a more sustainable future toward the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. TCO did exactly so, launching a wide range of updated and new criteria, designed to promote a circular approach to IT products along with transparency and responsibility in the supply chain.
Want to learn more about the criteria? Then, join the launch event 14.00-17.30 on December 4, 2018, in Brussels.
The event is moderated by human rights lawyer and author Parul Sharma, who has led the Swedish Government’s delegation for implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The keynote speaker is the sustainability expert and award-winning designer Leyla Acaroglu. Challenging the audience with thought-provoking ideas, she will talk about how innovation can help drive positive environmental and social change and how disruptive design solutions can help promote the circular economy.
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.
The report zooms in on two key areas in which the city has direct impact on circularity: The construction value chain and organic waste. It presents a set of action points for both of these areas that help to establish a circular production and consumption model on the city level.
The report highlights the importance of innovation in the soil, road, and construction sector – a sector that thus far has not achieved much attention in terms of circular development but which bears great potential due to large volumes as well the direct influence that many local governments can exert in this regard – through regulation as well as circular procurement. Innovation procurement processes challenging the market to for example redesign existing buildings or develop new products from used materials are a key tool for public authorities in this regard.