Worldwide we face significant challenges: global warming, the depletion of resources, the accumulation of waste on the planet.
Citizens, companies and governments must jointly use materials more circularly and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
Governments can do a lot: create legislation, issue permits, grant subsidies.
And! Sustainable Procurement.
Through their purchases, the central government, provinces, municipalities, schools and hospitals have a considerable influence on how we do business in the Netherlands. They have a joint procurement budget of 73 billion euros.
Take CO2 emissions, for example.
Governments can significantly reduce them, via conscious choices in procurement. In fact, they already do.
Through more sustainable purchasing in 2015 and 2016, the Dutch government saved about five megaton CO2 on the total duration of signed contracts in, among others, the product groups company cars, electricity, and solar panels.
This is equal to the annual emissions from energy and transportation of 600,000 Dutch households. That is almost twice the number of households in the city of Rotterdam.
When governments take the lead in sustainable procurement, climate-neutral solutions can quickly benefit from economies of scale.
Sustainable procurement is not only about the environment, but it is also about people. For example about creating jobs for people with a distance to the labour market.
As public authorities, we can only set up socially responsible procurement if our procurement professionals and contract managers are equipped to do so.
This is where the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, RIVM, can help. We develop and deliver knowledge and expertise for measuring progress in sustainability.
To measure gains in sustainability, public authorities need data from suppliers. With this data, public authorities can improve their procurement policy in every policy cycle. They can also make the gains in sustainability visible and thus increase their support base.
Data provision will get easier as purchasers, and suppliers get used to administrating it.
This sustainable procurement becomes increasingly effective, and the sustainable transition really gets going!
What we advise others, also applies to us, of course.
RIVM signed the Dutch Manifest for Sustainable Procurement.
And drafted an action plan to make our own purchasing more sustainable. We focus on:
Catering: ordered lunches are in principle vegetarian. This delivers on average 0.5 kg CO2 gains per lunch.
Laboratory equipment: we increase the proportion of recycled packaging materials and look for circular alternatives for disposables and chemicals.
And ICT: We use our phones and tablets longer and work on second lives for all our devices.
That is how we, as a governmental institution, set an example and help companies to take steps towards a climate-neutral and circular economy.