By optimising collaboration when purchasing products and services, the government can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This was the conclusion of a study by the National Institute for Public Health and Environmental Protection (RIVM) into so-called 'buyer groups'. Within these collaborations, public organisations (such as central government) strive to minimise their impact on the climate during tendering. This is known as sustainable public procurement (SPP).

In 2020, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management set up these groups in order to promote SPP as it represents an excellent opportunity to boost sustainability. On the orders of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the RIVM monitored the 13 groups' results for a variety of product groups, such as building materials, traffic signs and new builds. This study focused on the themes of circular economy and climate.

Estimated reduction of emissions 

The study showed that 6 groups were able to calculate how much greenhouse gas emission would be prevented. Between them, the total amount was comparable to the emissions of 19,000 Dutch households. This can be achieved via a wide range of methods, e.g. by developing built-in kitchens that have a longer operational life and can be reused. For 7 groups, it was not yet possible to calculate sustainability gains. This was due to a number of factors, such as insufficient availability of information on tendering processes, for example, the composition of materials and the product numbers/quantities were not always clear. 

Developing a vision and strategy together

The emission savings calculations show that public procurement officers, market parties and other stakeholders can collaborate in order to boost sustainability via SPP. It is therefore important that they come together to establish a collective vision and strategy. Boosting sustainability must be a key component of this vision and strategy, with the result that procurement and delivery will be better coordinated. Measuring and monitoring sustainability gains is another vital aspect in this process, as it enables us to work towards increasingly concrete sustainability goals.