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Ecolabel and Green Public Procurement

What does Green Public Procurement stand for?

Green Public Procurement (GPP) is a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured. GPP is a voluntary instrument, which means that member states and public authorities can determine the extent to which they implement it.

How Can Ecolabels be Used in GPP?

Under the EU Procurement Directives (2014/24/EU and Directive 2014/25/EU), ecolabels may be used in public procurement, provided a number of conditions are met:

  1. the label requirements only concern criteria which are linked to the subject-matter of the contract and are appropriate to define characteristics of the works, supplies or services that are the subject-matter of the contract;
  2. the label requirements are based on objectively verifiable and non-discriminatory criteria;
  3. the labels are established in an open and transparent procedure in which all relevant stakeholders, including government bodies, consumers, social partners, manufacturers, distributors and non-governmental organisations, may participate;
  4. the labels are accessible to all interested parties;
  5. the label requirements are set by a third party over which the economic operator applying for the label cannot exercise a decisive influence.

In the context of technical specifications, ecolabels – and in particular the EU Ecolabel - can be used in two different ways:

  • ecolabels’s requirements on goods and/or services can be used for the drafting of the technical specifications in order to define the characteristics of the goods or services to be purchased
  • ecolabels can help to check compliance with these requirements as one means of proof

The EU Ecolabel is an EN ISO 14024 Type I Ecolabel voluntary certification scheme of environmental excellence. EU Ecolabel criteria are established through a Commission Decision for a defined product group. To be awarded with the EU Ecolabel, a product (good or service) must comply with all the requirements set in the Commission Decision. EU Ecolabel licences are granted by EU Ecolabel competent bodies. The EU Ecolabel scheme fulfils the above points from b) to e).

The Buying Green! Handbook outlines how labels can be used at different stages of the procurement process in more detail.

The EU Ecolabel Makes Green Procurement Easy:

Under the conditions set out above, procurers can make reference to the requirements underlying the EU Ecolabel in order to specify their needs. This makes it easier for public authorities to buy green.

No Expert Knowledge Required:

The EU Ecolabel criteria take the main environmental impacts of a product into account, as well as the technically possible improvements. These criteria are established at the European level through a transparent, multi-stakeholder process.

Fully Compatible With the Principles of the Internal Market: 

The EU Ecolabel scheme is public, transparent and non-discriminatory. It is valid and identical throughout the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).

Easy Identification: 

On the E-catalogue, information is available on the products and services awarded the EU Ecolabel. A potential purchaser can thus easily know the minimum number of companies capable of meeting the purchasing requirements.

Read more on the GPP website.