Procurement report

New green public procurement strategy approved

In April 2024, the Government published and approved its new green public procurement strategy and action plan, Buying Greener: Green Public Procurement Strategy and Action Plan 2024-2027.

Replacing the previous national green public procurement (GPP) policy, Green Tenders, which was more than a decade old, the new strategy endeavours to make an important contribution towards attaining national and international sustainability goals.

With government policy aiming to protect the environment and reduce raw material dependence whilst creating more jobs, the growing interest in a circular economy is becoming more apparent.

The Programme for Government (PfG) includes commitments relating to green public procurement and addresses evaluating and managing the environmental, economic, and social impacts of procurement strategies within the State. This includes developing and implementing a sustainable procurement policy.

As such, the Strategy and Action Plan aims to instigate driving implementation of green and circular procurement throughout the public sector.

The Stockholm Environment Institute published a policy brief addressing the current GPP landscape, stating: “Almost one-quarter of direct GHG emissions in Europe come from the transport sector, and road transport accounted for over 70 per cent of these emissions in 2019.

“Globally, the building and construction sector accounted for 39 per cent of energy and process-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2018. Procurement in the construction and transport sectors each represent about 12 per cent of the public sector’s total GHG emissions.”

The Action Plan acknowledges the considerable figures in public procurement spending, stating: “Ireland’s material consumption is well above EU average, indicating that there is scope for savings in GHG emissions through maximising efficiency of material use.”

Green public procurement

Annual public sector purchasing from the Government accounts for 10 or 12 per cent of the State’s GDP. This would affirm that it plays a large part of economic activity and demand and therefore, implementation of the action plan is essential.

The influence of Ireland’s public sector with green public procurement will actively encourage the provision of more resource-efficient, low carbon, less polluting goods, services, and works across the public sector.

The action plan outlines key objectives for the GPP Strategy and includes:

  1. enhancing GPP as a key tool for the public sector in helping Ireland’s transition to a sustainable circular and low carbon economy;
  2. ensuring GPP is a core and integral component of the public procurement process and associated governance structures in Ireland;
  3. establishing measures to ensure all procurement funds include green criteria where possible;
  4. supporting further development of GPP criteria, enhancing GPP knowledge and expertise and facilitating Ireland’s participation in international collective efforts to use the GPP as a lever for sustainable production and consumption; and
  5. supporting market conditions needed to deliver sustainable and innovative solutions for GPP.

Key methods of implementation in the GPP Strategy and Action Plan include measures to progress GPP implementation in the public sector; green public procurement monitoring and reporting; green public procurement training and awareness; and further development of national green public procurement guidance and criteria.

Additionally, the Strategy includes a key sectoral focus with green public procurement targets set out for several areas of public procurement within the economy such as construction, food, ICT equipment, textiles and indoor cleaning services.

Implementation of GPP

Over time, a coherent government strategy on GPP should produce increased demand for greener products and services which will potentially increase competition because of new entrants to the marketplace, therefore potentially reducing prices.

Recognised internationally as an effective means for public administrations, GPP will also manage the balance between Ireland’s cost effectiveness and sustainable development.

Regarding implementation, the strategy and action plan set out how the Government will undertake market engagement, avail of research and innovation, and EU and international initiatives on green public procurement. The strategy also consists of related GPP targets.

An annual review of the GPP Strategy and Action Plan will be undertaken by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications to assess the progress and monitor progress, while the establishment of a GPP Action Task Force will further facilitate the coordination of the reviewing progress.

Following the new strategy’s approval, Minister of State with special responsibility for Public Procurement, eGovernment, Communications and the Circular Economy Ossian Smyth TD stated: “This government is committed to making the circular economy a reality which means moving to a more sustainable model of production and consumption.

“Green public procurement will play a key role in helping Ireland become more resource efficient. It will ensure that public bodies play a critical part in supporting the delivery of important commitments on climate action and helping our transition to a circular economy.”

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