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 individual Member States and public authorities can determine the extent to which they implement it.
Public authorities are major consumers in Europe: they spend approximately 2 trillion euros annually, equivalent to some 17% of the EU’s gross domestic product. By using their purchasing power to choose goods and services with lower impacts on the environment, they can make an important contribution to sustainable consumption and production.
Green purchasing is also about influencing the market. By promoting and using GPP, public authorities can provide industry with real incentives for developing green technologies and products. In some sectors, public purchasers command a large share of the market (e.g. public transport and construction, health services and education) and so their decisions have considerable impact.
In 2008, the European Commission adopted its Communication “Public procurement for a better environment” which set an indicative target that, by 2010, 50% of all public tendering procedures should be green. To measure the achievement of this target, the European Commission is now looking at the level of uptake of GPP for 10 product and service groups. A questionnaire to be filled in by public procurers in the 27 EU Member States has been drafted in order to gather information if and how green elements are included in public procurement procedures. The results will be presented at the end of 2011 in a report which will feed into the process of deciding on future steps in EU GPP policies.