Public procurement is an economic heavyweight in the European Union. Learn how the EU Ecolabel, and other trusted ecolabels, can help reduce the environmental impact of purchases in the public sector.

Public procurement – or the purchases of goods, services and works by or on behalf of a public authority – represent roughly 14% of the European Union’s GDP. Translated into
absolute figures, government expenditure adds up to around EUR 1,8 trillion per year.

Directing this purchasing power towards eco-friendly choices can make an important contribution towards reaching the EU sustainability goals of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and of making the transition to a more Circular Economy.


The EU Ecolabel as a guidepost in going green
Green public procurement (GPP) can be a driver for eco-innovation as public actors decisions to opt for sustainable goods and services can create strong incentives for businesses to make their offers more eco-friendly, leading at the same time to increased business opportunities. GPP criteria developed at EU level can be directly used by public
administrations in their tendering documentation, considerably reducing the administrative burden.

Green choices are available at every level. There is a wide range of available investments, from using certified indoor cleaning services in your office spaces – to tendering and the
procurement of office equipment (e.g. electronic displays and furniture) and supplies (e.g. copy paper). Here, the EU Ecolabel’s, official EU EN ISO 14034 type 1 ecolabel for
environmental excellence, can guide procurement managers toward goods and services with reduced environmental impacts.


2-in-1: The EU Ecolabel complies with EU GPP criteria
The EU Ecolabel has a strong connection to the EU’s GPP criteria, as – for many products, criteria for both standards are developed hand in hand. This means that EU Ecolabel
products automatically comply with EU GPP criteria.

Procurement managers can simply rely on the EU Ecolabel, for example, when drafting the technical specifications of goods and services to be purchased or when verifying the compliance with these specifications. No additional verification or sustainability assessment is needed!

When EU GPP criteria are not available, the “Manuals for authorities awarding public contracts, based on EU Ecolabel criteria” may come to help. The first 3 manuals for “stationery and printed paper”, “tissue paper” and “graphic paper” will be available in September on the EU Ecolabel website. Additional manuals, focusing on “hard-covering products”, and on “absorbent hygiene products” will soon follow.


Ecolabels in GPP- Enabling the green transition
To highlight the potential synergies existing between trusted ecolabels, such as the EU Ecolabel, and sustainable procurement, a workshop entitled 'Ecolabels in GPP-Enabling the green transition’ was held during the last edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities (#EURegionsWeek), the biggest annual Brussels-based event dedicated to cohesion policy. During this annual four-day event, cities and regions showcase their capacity to create growth and jobs, implement European Union cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance.

The workshop demonstrated how ecolabels such as the EU Ecolabel can act as enablers for the green transition. It targeted regional and municipal authorities interested in making a difference in the transition to a carbon neutral, clean and circular economy, through procurement measures. The event touched on many important areas such as the market dialogue, the affordability of ecolabels for SMEs, the need to have European databases of labelled products, the non-substantial price difference between ecolabelled and non-ecolabelled products, the over effect on private buyers and the multitude of ecolabels.

Several questions were raised from the audience on the correct application of ecolabels in public procurement, while success stories presented by Copenhagen, Vienna and Asker municipalities provided local authorities with inspirational examples on the way forward. Through support from the European Commission, harmonization among ecolabels and the establishment of an independent database, the large-scale implementation of eco labels across local and regional levels looks very promising.

There is a lot of guidance available to procurers on how to go green by incorporating the EU GPP criteria in tender documentation, and how the EU Ecolabel can help.
The “Buying green!” handbook makes the business case for eco-friendly public procurement.
The European Commission’s websites on the EU Ecolabel and on Green Public Procurement offer further information on how every public acquisition can become a contribution to transitioning to a greener future.

Latest news & events

8 May 2024

GEN Magazine Edition 45

Read GEN Magazine 45…

2 January 2024

GENews December 2023

Read GEN News December 2023…

20 September 2023

ISEAL Training Course

These courses are relevant for anyone who want a deep dive into…

20 September 2023

B20 India Summit

The GEN Chair and Secretariat were there representing GEN which included a

31 August 2023

Procurement for People and The Planet – Sustainable Procurement Information Brochure

Last week, GEN’s Chair and Secretariat were involved at the B2O Summit,

12 August 2023

GENews August

Read GEN News August 2023…

12 August 2023

GEN Magazine Edition 44

Read GEN Magazine 44…

12 August 2023

Sustainable Public Procurement Article

Benefits of Ecolabel Sustainable Public Procurement

The sustainable public procurement (SPP) of…

12 August 2023

Case study – EPEAT Ecolabels & SPP

With more than 4000 EPEAT-registered products available in 40 countries around the…

12 August 2023

New EU Ecolabel criteria for Absorbent Hygiene Products and Reusable Menstrual Cups available in September

In September 2023, revised EU Ecolabel criteria for Absorbent Hygiene Products and…

GEN is the leading network of the world’s most credible and robust ecolabels

Become a member

Sign up for GENews