Ecological aspects have previously not been explicitly addressed in procurement. EU public procurement law leaves it to the discretion of public procurers to take account of ecological aspects. Influence on contractors in relation to what is being produced how, where and when was not used to control the ecological effects of procurement. Possible economic benefits from enhancing environmental compatibility in this field have therefore frequently not been realised.
FORMULATION OF OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES
The need for addressing this issue was recognised in the course of the preparations for the 1st Vienna Climate Protection Programme, with the substantial collaboration of Vienna’s Department for Environmental Protection. The main goal is the development of ecological requirements for products and services. These requirements constitute an essential part of the specifications of the goods and services tobe procured. In this connection, major emphasis is placed not only on the ecological evaluation but also on the maintenance or even improvement of the usability and efficiency of the relevant goods and services.
The supply, construction and other services regularly procured by the City of Vienna were grouped by themes and the individual themes were evaluated for their ecological relevance, their“greening” potential and the practical feasibility of ecological requirements.The major themes resulting from this process were referred to the respective working groups for further treatment. Over time, work on individual themes was completed, while other, new themes were introduced to the agenda. High priority is also given to the immediate implementability and legally secure applicability of the results of the "ÖkoKauf Wien" programme within the tender practices used in public procurement.
MOBILISATION OF RESOURCES
The programme is organised across different municipal departments and uses the existing structure and resources of the City of Vienna,thereby avoiding separate personnel expenses and related costs for offices,etc. Most of the staff members involved in the programme are employees of the City of Vienna and perform their programme tasks in addition to their actual functions. The programme is implemented at the administrative and organisational level by using the City of Vienna’s existing human and technical resources. The financial resources required for the award of external contracts to support work on the programme by, for example, studies, investigations or tests are primarily provided by the City of Vienna.Staff members’ motivation to participate in the programme is solely based on the opportunity to contribute their expert knowledge from their main fields of professional activity to the “ÖkoKauf Wien” programme and, building on this knowledge, to develop generally applicable regulations, which can be used by all procurers in their everyday work, once they have been published.
At the beginning of the programme, it was above all necessary to raise the awareness for the need to address this issue at a central level among the decision-makers of Vienna’s City Administration. Along with these efforts, it took a particularly large amount of persuasion to ensure the provision of human resources from the individual departments. The generally growing sense of responsibility for our climate, on the one hand, and the compulsory EU guidelines for public procurers, on the other, put it beyond any dispute that addressing this issue at a central level is the reasonable thing to do. The fact that the programme is backed at political level significantly helps to overcome obstacles. As the patron of the “ÖkoKauf Wien” programme, Vienna’s City Councillor for the Environment ensures its political acceptance. The programme is also facilitated by its broad basis and its involvement of all relevant entities within, but also important entities outside, the Vienna City Administration. There persisted, and still persists, the common preconception that ecological (organic) products and services are more expensive than conventional ones – a prejudice, which could not be eliminated in all spheres.Due to the direct implementation of the results developed within the programme in the City of Vienna’s procurement practices, this preconception was proved wrong in virtually every case. Only the large share in organic food which is bought for the hospitals of the Vienna Hospital Association, schools, nursery schools and pensioners’ residences creates quantifiable additional costs.Public procurement law provisions, which officially restrict public procurers in their realisation of procurement transactions, also used to impede the implementation of ecological requirements for products and services. Only the fundamental decision to realise the greening of procurement primarily by developing ecological specifications for the individual services provided the necessary legal certainty for procurement.
Because of the positive experience gained with the accomplished results, other procurers and interested parties were also allowed to use them, until it was finally decided that all results will be made publicly available (www.oekokauf.wien.at). Within the City of Vienna, as well as with other procurers, the results are implemented primarily by considering the relevant ecological requirements in the tender documents for each individual invitation to tender, whereby the tendering party includes the text drawn up by "ÖkoKauf Wien" into its performance specifications and thus ensures that the ecological requirements for the relevant products or services become an integral part of the contract. Each bidder has to consider these specifications, just as any other specifications regarding the services tendered for, in its bid and has to comply with them when fulfilling the contract. The contractor is required to prove compliance with the specifications by providing appropriate evidence.
Since the programme is a permanent institution, goals are accomplished, new goals are pursued and goals that have been achieved are reviewed and reset on an ongoing basis. The main objective is the provision of ecological specifications for the products and services regularly procured. The currently 23 thematically structured working groups have produced more than 100 results. Examples include:
The use of waste paper for the production of office storage systems and sanitary papers saves resources and significantly reduces the environmental burden of waste water and energy consumption. The production of organic food releases less CO2 than products from conventional agriculture. The purchase of organic food in accordance with the criteria of"ÖkoKauf Wien" alone enables the City of Vienna to avoid about 20,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. The change to energy-efficient office and household appliances and lighting technologies such as energy-saving lamps and the use of energy-saving electrical appliances not only, quite logically, saves on energy but also considerably reduces CO2 levels.
Simple changes in processes can contribute significantly to releasing the burden on the environment. Thus, the use of microfibre cloths has substantially reduced the use of cleaning agents. The construction sector with its broad range of techniques, methods and materials used offers the largest savings potential. Making the right decisions during the planning phase as well as choosing the right building materials will reduce both the emission of pollutants and the required energy input and increase life cycle duration.
Cautious calculations of measurable savings revealed that by applying the results of the“ÖkoKauf Wien” programme the City of Vienna saves an annual amount of approx. 17 million euro of a total procurement volume of 5 billion euros.Another calculable parameter is the reduction in CO2 of about 30,000 tonnes per year. These savings reduce the burden on the public budget and on our climate and hence can be called a sustainable strategy. The business sector has responded very positively to the ecological requirements for products and services and has adjusted its production conditions, product qualities and service performance.Thus, in many fields, products and services which do not meet the requirements of “ÖkoKauf Wien” have virtually disappeared from the market.
The activities under the "ÖkoKauf Wien" programme focus on the definition of ecological requirements for products and services, while at the same time ensuring their usability and economic justifiability. Social aspects are only indirectly supported, since their proper implementation within procurement procedures in line with the applicable procurement laws is hardly possible.Financial sustainability is primarily taken account of by including life-cycle costs in the considerations concerning the selection of the specific products or services to be procured. The efficient use of the best-suited products and services alone reduces cost levels despite complying with ecological requirements, as has been proven by the example of cleaning technology and cleaning agents. The environment benefits in every way from the consideration of ecological requirements for products and services. The use of resources is optimised, the input of primary raw materials and energy is lowered, the use of pollutants is minimised to the absolute lowest level required, the production of waste is reduced and the emission of pollutants avoided.
The preconception that the consideration of ecological requirements for products ors ervices would make them more expensive was disproved. The tenders received clearly demonstrated that in most cases the prices were in the usual range for the relevant products or services. When taking account of cost savings as a result of lower operating costs, longer life cycles and lower disposal costs,the calculation shows a significant reduction in costs in nearly all cases.Since “ÖkoKauf Wien” is organised as a programme, it incurs hardly any separate administrative costs and the results developed by practitioners for practitioners can be immediately integrated into the existing procurement procedures. In consequence, only a small amount of persuasion and information was required for the implementation of the results and training of their use.The feedback on the experience gained with the application of the results in procurement practice, which will be used for a further adjustment of the results, if required, is provided in the same way by the practitioners working on the programme. The reservations of the business sector about the efforts to enhance the environmental compatibility of products and services, which could be felt in few cases, could be eliminated by intensive contacts, sound arguments and the consistent implementation of the programme results in the City of Vienna’s procurement activities. It is therefore planned to continue on this path, both in terms of organisation and content, to expand the range of issues addressed, to continually update the ecological requirements and to upgrade them, if so required.
a) The "ÖkoKauf Wien" programme meets with great national and international interest. Nearly all results are made freely available on the Internet. For this reason, it cannot be reliably determined to what extent these results are used outside the Vienna City Administration. However, the enquiries we have received show that other public procurers as well as large industrial enterprises and individual private households are also interested in the results. In this connection, special mention must be made of our regular cooperation activities with the Austrian Standards Institute as the issuer of the Austrian “ÖNORMEN” Standards and the FederalMinistry for Economy, Family and Youth as the issuer of the standardised technical specifications for the construction sector.
The European Union has tasked its Member States to prepare National Action Plans on Sustainable Procurement. In Austria,this task was assigned to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry,Environment and Water Management. With the substantial collaboration of"ÖkoKauf Wien", the Action Plan, which is available in draft form,was prepared within a relatively short period of time and contains primarly the results of the “ÖkoKauf Wien” programme for the ten priority issues defined by the EU.
b) Transferred Best Practice:
Transfers of this UN-HABITAT Best Practices programme have taken place on three levels. Best Practices Transfer 1 takes place in the framework of the National Action Plan on public procurement between the City of Vienna, represented by „ÖkoKauf“ and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry,Environment and Water Management.
The Best Practices Transfer 2 takes place in the framework of the preparation of engineering standards within the standardization of the technical specifications in the building sector.
The Best Practices Transfer 3 takes places in the framework of the EUROCITIES network.
a) for Transfer 1)
On basis of the necessity to establish a national Action Plan, the federal countries were asked by the Ministry to present experiences and expertise on the topic of green procurement.
for Transfer 2)
This transfer was initiated by „ÖkoKauf Wien“ realising the importance of a multiplier effect of providing basic principles of standardization resulting in concrete impact.
for Transfer 3)
„ÖkoKaufWien“ is part of the working group „Responsible Procurement“ of the EUROCITIES network. This network (www.eurocities.org)is a independent, non-profit Association, with the aim of supporting the interests of European Metropolises within the European Union.
In the framework of the working group, comprised of twelve european Metropolises(from Austria, Germany,GreatBritain, Spain and Sweden)as active partners, two European Union project have been carried out, in co-operation with different partners (ICLEI, e.g.): a) CARPE - Field Manual for responsible procurement
This manual presents the experiences of the CARPE project (CITIES AS RESPONSIBLE PURCHASERS IN EUROPE) and shows how Cities - respecting international trade regulations) - can move markets locally, as well as on the European and global scale.
b) RESPIRO –Responsibility in Procurement
RESPIRO aims at integration social and ethical requirements in public call for tenders. This has been realized by exchange of information and experience between public and private procurement managers.
b) For 1) Besides of the Steering Group ten working groups have been established following the recommendations of the European Union, where „ÖkoKauf Wien“ has been actively participating by providing the experiences gained in its ten year process. The contents of the National Action Plan rely basically on these experiences.
For 2) Also here the City of Vienna has been working in the different working levels to insert the experiences gained in the Building Working groups of „ÖkoKauf Wien“.
For3) RESPIRO project First Respiro Expert Meeting 11,12. June 2007, Brussels
The first Expert Meeting, taking place at EUROCITIES in Brussels,brought together experts from all over Europe to detail on the criteria for the special sectors (Building and Textile/Clothes). On both sectors sketches for guidelines for provision have been worked up.
2nd RESPIRO expert forum, 25th September 2007, Firenze
The 2nd expert forum, organised by the Toscana Region in Firenze,again brought together a group of relevant experts, to comment on the guidelines worked up in the first meeting.
c) For 1) here the experts from „ÖkoKauf“ provided expertise by providing working time.
For 2) The main partner was ICLEI, who can provide information on the project.
d) For 1) There was no change in the original project, since the requirements defined within the national action plan are less binding then the ones already defined in the original project.
For 3) Succesful CSR (Corporate social responsibilty projects) should be based on experiences. It is therefore necessary to base them on dialogues with a broad range of interest groups. But it is also necessary to develop binding guides and assistance formats, to further the implementation throughout Europe.
e)The National Action Plan will become operative after its necessary political discussion. This meets the requirements by the European Union at one hand, and at the other hand mainstream the ambitious objectives of „ÖkoKauf Wien“ into national legislative. Positive Experiences and especially the positive financial impact and the CO2 reduction would meet a respective multiplication.
For 2) is discussed further down in the paper
For 3) In December 2007 the RESPIRO transfer conference took place in Lille, France.There a successful european platform was established, to disseminate the actual and practical experiences (form public as well as private sector) on social responsible procurement in the two sectors (Building and Textile/Clothes).
The manuals have been widely disseminated
Textile and Clothes http://www.iclei-europe.org/fileadmin/template/projects/respiro/files/RESPIRO_Guides/RESPIRO_Textiles_final_www_de.pdf
f)for 1) The transfer project met with the same arguments and reservations (mostly concerning costs and procurement laws) that „ÖkoKauf Wien“ had met years earlier and has been successful in contradicting on the local level. The positive experiences were the main argument to dissolve these reservations and mainstream experience into a national legislative.
for 3) The process to hold a multi-stakeholder dialogue with relevant interested parties to collect expertise in the building and textile/clothes sector concerning different set of questions.
The development of a clear manual on CSR criteria in the two sectors, especially on the questions of:
Working conditions, safety, illicit labour, integration into the working field, and ethical procurement of material. Sensibilization of decision makers on the national and European level.