10 principles for green purchasing

A simple guide

Grey purchasing focuses only on price, with an inherent risk of getting suppliers who disregard the climate, the environment and human rights.

By imposing green purchasing requirements, we help preserve the environment and create innovation and competitiveness.

The 10 principles for green purchasing are intended to be a simple guide to which all enterprises can aspire.

Green purchasing

10 principles for green purchasing

  • Green purchasing are purchases based on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals that are also compatible with climate, nature, working and human rights, and that contribute to innovation and competitiveness.
  • Green purchasing are processes for the purchase of goods and services with a low environmental footprint during their lifetime, compared to goods and services that would otherwise have been purchased.
  • Green purchasing means to disregard the prioritisation of saving money in the short run and instead consider value from a lifecycle perspective.
  • Green purchasing means to consider the circular economy. The purchaser should ask how long the goods or services will meet the requirement, the extent to which the purchase is reusing goods and services already produced/delivered, and whether the purchase can be expanded upon at a later point.
  • Setting goals is a necessary part of establishing a plan with specific milestones for implementation and follow-up of the enterprise’s green purchasing strategy.
  • Define selected basic principles – main goals could for instance be an emission-free building site, climate neutrality, zero-emission vehicles or similar goals relevant to the enterprise.
  • Let the environment and sustainability form part of the evaluation requirements for the selection of suppliers.
  • Communicate the enterprise’s purchasing strategy and evaluation method to the market, thereby creating predictability and providing incentives to the market.
  • Build on existing purchasing expertise to make purchases sustainable and eco-friendly.
  • Use and develop the enterprise’s existing methods, tools and models to ensure the sustainability and environmental effects of the purchases.
  • Exchange experiences and insights from purchasing processes with suppliers.
  • A circular economy is about moving away from an economy in which we extract resources, manufacture, consume and throw away, towards an economy in which we manage resources with a view to preventing the generation of waste.
  • Try to request solutions designed for recycling. Utilise your influence by rewarding suppliers who offer recyclable products or materials – identify possibilities and potential in both product packaging and product lifetime.
  • Ask the following questions: Is the purchase necessary, or can it be reduced, deferred or cancelled? Can materials or resources be recycled, reused, repaired or upgraded instead of a new purchase? Is it possible to lease rather than own?
  • Ensure that the environment, working and human rights, and obligations are clearly defined. in the contract / terms and conditions.
  • Ensure sanctions/rights in the event of breach of legal obligations and requirements pertaining to the environment.
  • Consider incentive schemes or contract terms that provide bonuses if the supplier offers or develops more eco-friendly alternatives.
  • The option to impose requirements related to climate and the environment must be made a fixed part of the purchaser’s needs analysis, so that these considerations are emphasised throughout the process.
  • Manufacturing something that is not put to use is the most expensive and least sustainable option of all. Be conscious of business opportunities and different alternatives.
  • Procure a sufficient and adequate data basis.
  • The key to good planning is allocating enough time and the early and appropriate involvement of decision-makers.
  • The procurement should not be made before the purchaser has become familiar with the requirement, the users and the market.
  • Engaging in dialogue provides an opportunity to orientate yourself in the market and challenge suppliers to go the extra mile in terms of the environment and innovation.
  • Use market surveys, information requests, supplier conferences, one-on-one meetings and hearings (regarding e.g. tender documentation) in order to make the purchase greener.
  • If possible, make room for negotiations during the purchase process – this will normally expand the scope of possibilities and reduce the risk of misunderstandings and unsuccessful offers.
  • Innovation, sustainability and competitiveness are three sides of the same triangle – and the correct use of resources will increase the rate of innovation, the sustainability effect and the degree of competitiveness.
  • Allocate sufficient human resources to ensure good planning, supplier dialogue, implementation and contract follow-up.
  • Allocate sufficient economic resources. A short-term saving can be a long-term expense, and by taking a lifecycle perspective, total costs are reduced and the value of the purchase is increased.
  • Follow up the contract and the delivery in terms of environmental and sustainability specifications and requirements.
  • Enforce the sanction provisions of the contract when environmental and sustainability obligations or requirements are not followed up by the supplier.
  • Measure and report on environmental and sustainability effects during the purchase and/or after it has been concluded, in order for the purchase organisation to learn from the process.
  • The use of established standards, systems and schemes creates a uniform approach for purchasers who are not obliged to develop their own environmental requirements.
  • The use of established standards, systems and schemes makes competition and evaluation more predictable for suppliers and simpler for purchasers, while also raising the environmental standard of the purchase.
  • Impose requirements on suppliers regarding the use of established third-party standards, systems and schemes (e.g. the ISO 14001 environmental management system, EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) or Eco-Lighthouse certification scheme).
  • Impose requirements to ensure that goods and services to be delivered utilise established third-party standards and labelling schemes on product level (e.g. the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, EU Ecolabel, Ø label, Fairtrade, Criteria Wizard for Sustainable Public Procurement of the Norwegian Agency for Public and Financial Management (Norw.: DFØ).

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