According to the available information, barely 2% of public procurement takes sustainability into account. This is what Civil Service Minister Petra de Satter (Green) is putting forward a plan to make the federal procurement strategy more sustainable.
The Federal Public Service spends more than 150 million euros each year on goods and services with taxpayers’ money. Much has already been done in recent years to make these purchases more efficient. For example, there are 38 joint contracts under which different government departments purchase items such as office equipment or work clothes. Fifty other joint contracts are in the pipeline.
But there is still much work to be done regarding sustainability, says Civil Service Minister Petra de Sutter. According to her information, only 2% of public procurement now takes sustainability into account, which refers to the environment, social and ethical aspects and innovation. This figure should be taken with caution, since the services are not obligated to transmit information about the sustainability of their purchases. “Still, I’m sure we have a world to conquer here,” de Sutter says.
“As far as I’m concerned, in public tenders not only the price is important, but there should also be enough attention to how long the product can last, packaging or the impact on the climate.”
In concrete terms, De Sutter suggests making a list of product categories that aim for 100 percent sustainability. This concerns, for example, vehicles, textiles, ICT equipment or hand tools. In addition, Deputy Prime Minister Green wants to see with services whether and where they can collaborate with, for example, tailor-made companies or small SMEs.
When you buy with tax money, that comes with liability.
Moreover, this list is not without commitments, says de Sutter. Government services should choose sustainable products, and if they do not, give good reasons for this. “Tax money also has to be spent in a sustainable way. If I make purchases with tax money, that entails exemplary responsibility and function. To me that’s the same logic.”
De Satre’s plan is currently on the cabinet table.
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