Buying in a sustainable manner: All it takes is a little bit of green

Written by Jelena Kremenjas, Project Coordinator for GPP, UNDP Croatia

Actually, it's not just a little bit of green, it's a whole lot of it. Green public procurement is a way to transform markets while developing sustainable living. It's not about what we buy – it's about how we buy.

Did you know that public procurement on the EU level amounts to € 1000 billion per year? In the EU, the public purchase of goods and services has been estimated to account for 16% of GDP. In 2014 Croatia spent EUR 5,5 billion on public procurement. If we were to channel these funds to procurement of goods and services with a low carbon footprint we could boost economy in a variety of ways. So, it is very important to know what makes something green.
Or should we say sustainable?

Do you know what sustainable means?

Everything has its beginning and the end, and so do product and services. It's not just how much resources something consumes when it's being used, but also what happens in production and disposal phases. Only through the understanding of the whole process we can say if it's sustainable or not.

The bottom line is to look at the whole life cycle.

If public bodies were to procure sustainable goods and services, green demand would generate green supply. Such approach boosts entire economy while preserving the environment. When the market is developed enough, we can see positive effects, especially in terms of environmental and social responsibility. We all like organic and healthy products for personal use, so why not use the same approach at work? As the biggest procurers public entities have a responsibility to buy green.

Many Croatian institutions recognized the importance of green public procurement and joined international project GPP2020 funded by Intelligent Energy Europe. One of them is Central procurement Office, which procures all the goods and services for State owned institutions (hospitals, schools etc.) from pencils to helicopters. Just by procuring green electricity it cuts CO2 emissions by 95% compared to conventional procurement. Approximate quantity of electricity put up for tender for a two-year-based calculation was 483.300 MWh.

The tender requirement was transformed from conventional electricity sources to renewable for all State bodies (ministries, agencies, bureaus and offices) on more than 3.500 locations all over Croatia. It reduced CO2 emissions by 63.115 t CO2e/year as it is shown in the following table. 

The ambition of the public tender was to increase consumption and production of electricity from renewable sources and to prove that Croatian market is developed and mature enough to provide renewable energy to such a widespread and large consumer.  The results were achieved with the 100% success rate.

When it comes to how we buy over what we buy – we need to change the way we think.

We consider resources that one is using and from where the resources are coming from including consumption of raw material and energy, emissions to air, soil and water, waste generation, recycling options and the possibility/necessity of disposal.

That is why green procurement has advantage over conventional one.  ­­­­­­­



Blog post Environment