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Study on the implementation of life cycle assessment and environmental footprint methods in the context of public procurement (2021)

In November 2021, the European Commission published the results of a study on the implementation of life-cycle assessment (LCA) and environmental footprint methods in the context of public procurement.

The study builds on the Commission’s Environmental Footprint Initiative, launched in 2013, which supports methodological harmonisation in the field of LCA as a potential suitable basis for enhancing environmentally driven policies.

This study aims at supporting the Commission in assessing how to best address LCA-based information in public procurement procedures, by evaluating existing practices in nine EEA countries and assessing how LCA-based instruments may serve contracting authorities and tenderers. An analysis of relevant regulations, literature and an empirical approach that integrated interviews with experts on Green Public Procurement identified various instruments of interest. All of these entail benefits and limits and none can be seen as applicable in all EEA countries without adaptation. Nevertheless, this study shows existing requirements and identifies possible best practice approaches and future options.

The study can be found here.

Assessing Green Public Procurement Networking Needs (2015)

In 2014 the European Resource Efficiency Platform published its Manifesto and Policy Recommendations, a high-level guidance document for the European Commission, Members States and private actors on the transition to a more resource-efficient economy. On the topic of Green Public Procurement (GPP) the Manifesto calls for a stronger and more coherent implementation of GPP recommending the establishment of a European network to exchange good practice in this field.

In the same year the Commission commissioned a study with the aim of evaluating structure and content options for such a European GPP network and how to ensure added value. To fulfil this objective, the consultant, Public Procurement Analysis, first conducted a survey in order to gain an overview of existing network activities, and identify their strengths and weaknesses as well as 'gaps' where value could potentially be added at EU level. Based on the survey results, the consultant developed different scenarios for EU support of GPP networking, which were then discussed in follow-up interviews and a webinar. Such discussions provided insights about the advantages and challenges associated with each of the proposed scenarios. The results of this study can be found here.

Many of the networking activities identified in the study form part of the EU-funded SPP Regions p roject (2015-18), funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme. SPP Regions aims to promote stronger networking and collaboration at both the European and sub-national regional level on sustainable and innovative procurement (SPP/PPI), to help promote and embed capacity building and knowledge transfer.

Monitoring the Uptake of GPP in the EU (2012)

In the 2008 Communication “Public Procurement for a Better Environment”, the European Commission set an indicative target that, by 2010, 50% of all public tendering procedures should be green in the EU, where “green” means compliant with endorsed common core EU GPP criteria for ten priority product/service groups such as construction, transport, cleaning products and services.

In 2011, the Commission commissioned a study with the aim of measuring if this target has been met. Since there are no systematic statistics on GPP in the Member States, the Centre for European Policy Studies and the College of Europe conducted a survey in which over 850 public authorities from 26 Member States participated. The respondents provided detailed answers regarding the use of core G PP criteria in the last contract they had signed for one of the ten product/service groups and gave more general information on the "greenness" of their overall procurement in the period 2009/2010. For this general part, the study collected information on more than 230,000 contracts signed by public authorities in 2009-2010, for a value of approx. 117.5 billion Euros. The detailed results of this survey can be found in the report and the annex.

The main findings of the report are:

  • Although the uptake of Green Procurement in the EU is significant, it appears that the 50% target has not been met. 26% of the last contracts signed in the 2009-2010 period by public authorities in the EU included all surveyed EU core GPP criteria. However, 55% of these contracts included at least one EU core GPP criterion, showing that some form of green procurement is being done at a large scale.
  • The study also points towards an overall positive trend in the period 2009-2010. The results from the last contract as regards the inclusion of at least one core criterion are significantly higher (55%) than those for the whole period 2009-2010 which show the use of some sort of green criteria only in 29% of the cases. Another positive result is that the greenness of contracts seems to be higher when looking at the value of contracts compared to the number of contracts. 38% of the total value of the contracts included green criteria.
  • In line with earlier research, the study highlights that the uptake of EU GPP criteria varies significantly across Europe. Looking at the last contract signed by public authorities, there are four top performing countries (Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden), in which all EU core GPP criteria were applied in 40%-60% of the cases. On the other hand, there are as many as twelve countries where this occurred in less than 20% of the last contracts. There are some variations in the results when looking at the uptake of at least one criterion and for all contracts of the period 2009-2010. For some countries, the results have to be read with caution, due to a low participation in the survey.
  • Moreover, the study shows that purchasing costs are still the predominant criterion for awarding contracts. 64% of the respondents mainly used the lowest price as the decisive criterion, while only a minority uses predominantly Life Cycle Costing evaluation methods.
  • The survey also asked how difficult public authorities perceive the inclusion of green criteria in the procurement. Overall, on a scale of 1 to 5 scale, the average level of perceived difficulty among all respondents is 3.06. Authorities in the countries with the highest GPP uptake also find it easier to do GPP.

The results of this study will be taken into account when deciding on future GPP policy developments.

In the course of 2012, the European Commission is reviewing its policy in this field with the aim of increasing the use of green criteria in public procurement throughout the EU in the future.


Mainstreaming GPP in the Nordic countries - a scoping study (2012)

This report contains the results of a scoping study on the potential for mainstreaming green public procurement in the Nordic countries. The report gives recommendations on how green public procurement can be better integrated in other policy areas.  The study was financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Working group on Sustainable Consumption and Production.


More information and training could increase GPP uptake (2012)

A recent survey of purchasing managers in Italy has identified that influence the adoption of GPP strategies, and suggests that a broad knowledge of GPP is key to its implementation. The full study can be found here.


Assessment and Comparison of National GPP/SPP Criteria (2010)

The results of a study entitled Assessment and Comparison of National GPP/SPP Criteria and Underlying Schemes in 10 countries are now available. The study has been conducted by AEA.

European Environment Agency (2009 and 2010)

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has undertaken some research studies related to GPP.

In 2009 the EEA published the results of its study GPP and Product Performance Requirements: Case Study on Selected Energy Using and Non-energy Using Products. Drawing upon experience in Austria, Denmark, Germany and the UK in relation to three building / construction-related product groups (water heaters, windows and recycled mineral construction and demolition waste), the study:

  • Assessed current energy and environmental performance-related product labelling programmes, regulations and standards, identifying lessons to be learnt from best practice;
  • Reviewed current practice in GPP, and identifying lessons to be learnt from best practice and measures which could be used to reinforce GPP procedures, using product labelling as a common reference system;
  • Highlighted other measures that could be used to further stimulate the market for energy efficient and environmentally sustainable products.

In 2008 EEA published a technical report Time for action — towards sustainable consumption and production in Europe. Three sets of three top-priority recommendations towards sustainable consumption and production in Europe are included in the technical report that summarises main conclusions of the conference 'Time for action — Towards sustainable consumption and production in Europe', held in September 2007 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Collection of statistical information on GPP in the EU (2009)

The study (conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Significant and Ecofys) aimed to develop and implement a methodology for measuring GPP in Europe, to assist Member States and the Commission when monitoring compliance with the targets set forth. This includes:

  • A methodology for measuring quantitative levels of GPP
  • A methodology for measuring the CO2 and financial impact of GPP
  • Results on the level of GPP in the seven best performing Member States based on an implementation of the developed methodologies

Collection of statistical information: methodologies

Summary of Methodology

Collection of statistical information: results

Cost & Benefits of GPP in Europe (2006-2007)

In order to gain more insight into the real situation regarding the costs and benefits of GPP, a study was undertaken on behalf of the Commission by Öko-Institut e.V. and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. The study comprised 3 tasks:

Task 1: Comparison of costs / market research: collection of information on the costs of green public purchasing as compared to non-green purchasing

Task 2: (Additional) costs for individual purchasing authorities of buying ‘green’ products (administrative and product costs)

Task 3: Potential of GPP for the spreading of new/recently developed environmental technologies

General Recommendations

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Eipro and Impro Studies (2006-2008)

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the Commission has carried out two major studies examining the environmental impact of products and identifying ways in which their life-cycle environmental impacts can be reduced.

The first phase of the study (EIPRO) aimed to identify the products consumed in the EU having the greatest environmental impact from a life-cycle perspective. Environmental impact was assessed under a number of different headings (e.g. acidification, toxicity, global warming, ozone depletion) for almost three hundred product categories.

EIPRO Summary

EIPRO Full Report

The second phase of the work (IMPRO) attempts to identify possible ways in which the life-cycle environmental impacts can be reduced for some of the products that are among those with the greatest impacts. The analysis first considers improvement potentials that are technically feasible.

Reports have been produced on the improvement potential for three of the product groups responsible for a high percentage of impacts from private consumption – passenger cars, residential buildings and meat and dairy products.

Link to IMPRO reports

Life-cycle costing (2006-2007)

DG Enterprise commissioned Davis Langdon to analyse and evaluate the different national approaches to Life-cycle Costing (LCC). An EU-wide methodological framework for the estimation of life-cycle costs for buildings and constructed assets was developed. Part of the project was to elaborated guidance on how to make cost estimates at each stage of a construction project, from the initial appraisal to the completion and post-occupation phases, including the disposal of the asset. A number of concrete case studies were undertaken to illustrate the practical implementation of this EU-wide approach.

More information and the reports of the study can be found on the website of DG Enterprise.

GPP in Europe : conclusions and recommendations (2005-2006)

The TAKE 5 project developed a measurement tool and measured the current level of green public procurement across the European Union., made available examples of environmental technical specifications for a series of product and service groups identified as most suitable for ‘greening’, and provided recommendations for the development of the national GPP action plans.

Final conclusions (Spring 2006)

Interim report (Oct 2005)

Relief (2001-2003)

The RELIEF project ("Environmental Relief Potential of Urban Action On Avoidance And Detoxification of Waste Streams through Green Public Procurement") was carried out by a European research consortium led by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and supported by the EC research programme on Environment and Sustainable Development. It sought to analyse and quantify the environmental relief potential of an integrated GPP strategy for selected product groups, and produced policy recommendations to achieve this strategy.

RELIEF project