EU Science Hub

The use of green criteria in the public procurement of food products and catering services: a review of EU schemes

Green Public Procurement (GPP) is currently being used to influence the market to shift to a supply of goods and services to the public sector that have a reduced environmental impact. The food service sector plays a major role in the purchases made by the public sector and due to that relevance deserves attention. The GPP schemes reviewed were those that provide details of the specific environmental criteria used (or recommended) for public tendering of food products and catering services provision. The set of GPP schemes apply to distinct geographical zones within the EU, including national level (e.g. Italy), regional level (e.g. Barcelona) and also local level, as in the case of cities (e.g. Copenhagen) or schools (e.g. a school in Pisa, Italy). The criteria set covers services provision to schools, health and social care, higher education, government office canteens, sports and leisure arenas, prisons and defence services (e.g. army). European and worldwide GPP criteria were not covered by the review made. This exploratory study comprehends a total of 23 GPP schemes. This sample includes eight national schemes, three regional schemes and ten local schemes. The review focused on the scope, for the sector of applicability (e.g. education, healthcare) of the GPP set of criteria and for the type of food products covered. Moreover, this paper analyses the type of GPP criteria in use and how the environmental criteria cover the distinct life cycle stages of the whole food supply chain. Findings from the analysis show that for the majority of schemes the scope of criteria is simultaneously the provision of food products and catering services. Moreover, cities, municipalities and counties are the main public authorities reporting procurement activities for the education sector while national GPP activities are applicable for multiple sectors of activity. The main food products covered by the criteria are fruits and vegetables, dairy products, fish and seafood and meat. Finally, the findings show that the set of criteria from the schemes cover widely the life cycle stages of the food supply chain. The results allowed for a first identification of current practices in the use of GPP criteria within public purchasing of food products and catering services in Europe by national, regional or local governments.