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Benefits of GPP

The benefits associated with GPP are not limited to environmental impact, but can include everything from social and health to economic and political benefits. Some examples of the benefits generated by European authorities through GPP:

  • The City of Vienna saved €44.4 million and over 100,000 tonnes of CO2 between 2004 and 2007 through its EcoBuy programme (1)
  • Three million tonnes of CO2 would be saved in the Netherlands alone if all Dutch public authorities applied the national Sustainable Public Procurement criteria, which include green criteria. Public sector energy consumption would be reduced by 10%. (2)
  • If all IT purchases in Europe followed the example of Copenhagen City Council and the Swedish Administrative Development Agency, energy consumption would be cut by around 30 terawatt hours – roughly the equivalent of four nuclear reactors (3)
  • £40.7 million (€47.2 million) could be saved in the UK if the proposed Government Buying Standards (GPP criteria) are applied by all central government departments and executive agencies, according to a cost-benefit analysis which monetised the potential impacts (4)
  • CO2 emissions would be cut by 15 million tonnes per year if the whole EU adopted the same environmental criteria for lighting and office equipment as the City of Turku, Finland - reducing electricity consumption by 50% (5)

 

Environmental benefits

GPP allows public authorities to achieve environmental targets

Public procurement can be instrumental in addressing environmental problems such as:

  • Deforestation, (e.g. through the purchase of wood and wood products from legally harvested and sustainably managed forests)
  • Greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. through the purchase of products and services with a lower CO2 footprint throughout their life-cycle)
  • Water use (e.g. through choosing more water-efficient fittings)
  • Energy efficiency and resource use (by choosing products which are more efficient and implementing environmentally conscious design principles, e.g. cradle-to-cradle)
  • Air, water and soil pollution (by controlling chemicals and limiting the use of hazardous substances)
  • Waste (by specifying processes or packaging which generate less waste  or encouraging reuse and recycling of materials)
  • Sustainable agriculture (e.g. by purchasing organically produced food)

GPP sets an example to private consumers

  • Green purchasing means setting an example for the general public and the private sector, and influencing the marketplace. Establishing a GPP policy, and communicating initiatives and their results, demonstrates that action in this area is possible and that it leads to positive outcomes. It can also encourage private sector organisations to use green criteria for their own procurement.

GPP raises awareness of environmental issues

GPP can also act as a useful channel for raising environmental awareness by identifying the environmental impacts of a particular product/service throughout its life-cycle and providing information on the benefits of greener alternatives. For example, serving organic and sustainable food in a public canteen is likely to increase awareness amongst users and providers of the service.

 

Social / health benefitsSocial / health benefitsSocial / health benefits

GPP improves quality of life

  • Policies on GPP can improve services to the public and thus enhance quality of life. Cleaner public transport, for example, improves air quality.  Reduced use of toxic chemicals in cleaning products provides a healthier working environment.

GPP helps establish high environmental performance standards for products and services

  • GPP can help drive higher quality standards for products and services, delivering better performance for public authorities and ultimately citizens. New products and services which have been developed to meet the requirements of GPP may also become popular with private consumers, improving overall standards.

 

Economic benefits

GPP saves money and resources when life-cycle costs  are considered

  • GPP often leads to savings over the whole life-cycle of a purchase- both for public authorities and for society in general. Purchasing more energy-efficient IT equipment can save money in many different ways: for example lower electricity use and easier recycling or reuse at the end of its life. Similarly a more energy and water-efficient building may cost more up-front, but will save money in the long run.

For further information please see the section on Life-cycle costing (LCC)

GPP provides incentives to industry to innovate

  • Promoting green procurement gives important incentives for industry to develop 'green' technologies and products and promote them in the market place. In particular, small- and medium-sized companies may profit from environmental procurement, as it offers an opportunity to find markets for their innovative solutions and products.

GPP can reduce prices for environmental technologies

  • Introducing 'green' tendering criteria can influence the marketplace and result in new entrants in the field of environmental technologies and products - potentially resulting in increased competition and reduced prices.

 

Political benefits

GPP is an effective way to demonstrate the public sector’s commitment to environmental protection and to sustainable consumption and production

  • A clear majority of the EU’s citizens perceive the protection of the environment as one of the Union’s key priorities*. A visible focus on 'greening' the purchase of products and services will therefore likely result in a positive perception of the administration and/or government in charge.

For more information on the benefits of GPP see the Buying Green! Handbook and Summary.

* See Eurobarometer Report “Attitudes of European citizens towards the environment” (March 2008) – 78% of respondents agreed with the statement “The EU should allocate more money to the protection of environment, even if this means that less money is spent on other areas.” The Report also found that Europeans widely support the idea of green procurement in public expenditure: nearly three-quarters think that public authorities should purchase more environmentally friendly products, even if they are more expensive than corresponding products.

References:

(1) Klimaschutzprogramm "ÖkoKauf Wien" spart CO2 und Geld (City of Vienna, 2008) available at: www.wien.gv.at/rk/msg/2008/0326/011.html

(2) De impact van het programma duurzaam inkopen anno 2011 at page 4 (Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, 2011)

(3)Green procurement makes a difference: Prime examples from the Nordic countries at page 5 (Nordic Council, 2009) available at http://www.norden.org/da/publikationer/publikationer/2009-740. The criteria applied relate to energy consumption, noise, recycling and dangerous substances.

(4) 11 year, net present value best estimate from Revised Government Buying Standards for Furniture: Impact Assessment, page 23 (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2010)  available at: http://sd.defra.gov.uk/documents/20100607furniture-ia.pdf
The savings would accrue from an increased ability to repair, remanufacture and recycle materials and from increasing the reuse of furniture, in addition to other benefits such as reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and waste.

(5)Green procurement makes a difference: Prime examples from the Nordic countries (Nordic Council, 2009) at page 5.