Identify ambitions & policies
Clear ambitions and well-defined policies help to make circular procurement succesful. The ambitions can be set down in, for example, a sustainability policy, an action plan for socially responsible procurement or a strategy for circular procurement. Make sure that the ambitions are converted into organisational policy once they have been determined.
Also ensure that your ambitions are in tune with your definition for circular economy. Substantiate this with national policies related to circular procurement and circular economy. Has your organisation signed the National Agreement on the Circular Economy (Grondstoffenakkoord), or maybe the Sustainable Procurement Manifesto (Manifest Maatschappelijk verantwoord Inkopen)? That may also be a way to get started with circular procurement.
In case you want to learn more about national policies: the policy regarding circular economy has been outlined in this time line by the Dutch government. In addition, sustainable procurement is included in the Climate Agreement (Dutch).
Procurement may be a good way to contribute to the achievement of societal goals. In the SP Manifesto (the Sustainable Procurement Manifesto) more than 200 public organisations (Dutch) have pledged to actively incorporate societal goals in their procurement processes. Each organisation has subsequently formulated an action plan that details their objectives for the coming years. Examples of such action plans are those of the municipalities of Helmond, Utrecht and Oosterhout (all Dutch texts).
Sustainable Procurement covers of a number of substantive topics (including circular procurement) and a number of cross-cutting topics (for example, SME-friendly procurement). These SP topics have been visualised in the figure below.
The Climate agreement was presented in June 2019 and includes the objective to have reduced CO2 emissions in the Netherlands by 49% in 2030. The Climate Agreement names circular procurement as one of the ways to contribute to this ambition, and it specifically mentions civil and hydraulic engineering as a product group with great potential.
For smaller projects, too, meeting the Climate Agreement objectives could be an argument to apply circular principles in your procurement and tendering. Extending the life cycle of existing products and applying reused materials prevents the need for new production processes and the use of new materials. It also contributes to CO2 reduction, even though this cannot be measured within your organisation.
The Implementation Programme Circular Economy (Dutch) details the initiatives with regard to the circular economy that will be taken in the coming years. It describes the actions resulting from the five Transition agendas concerning Construction, Biomass & Food, Plastics, Consumer Goods and Manufacturing Industry (all Dutch texts) that were determined earlier. It also mentions a number of initiatives for various cross-cutting themes, including circular procurement. The implementation programme is updated every year at a national conference on the circular economy.
The Green Deal Circular Procurement 2.0 (Dutch) was signed by approximately 40 public and private organisations (Dutch) that wanted to get started with circular procurement. All these organisations agreed to carry out two circular procurement pilots. The lessons learned are shared in Communities of Practice that are organised twice a year.
- Determine the circular procurement ambitions of your organisation, in line with your definition of ‘circular economy’, and have them approved at executive level.
- Find out if your organisation has signed the National Agreement on the Circular Economy or the Manifest MVI (socially responsible procurement manifesto): These are good starting points for circular procurement.
- Substantiate your ambition with the national objectives for the circular economy. 100% circular by 2050 and a reduction of 50% in the use of primary materials by 2030. Climate Agreement objectives can also be a motive for circular procurement.
In its action plan for socially responsible procurement, the Municipality of Helmond details its objectives in four areas: climate-neutral procurement, social return, innovation-friendly procurement and circular procurement.
In its action plan for socially responsible procurement, the Municipality of Utrecht details its plans per product group: from real estate to support services and from street furniture to sewers.
The Implementation programme describes the national plans regarding the circular economy for 2019-2023.
In their strategy document Procurement with Impact, central government explains how their procurement will contribute to societal goals, such as the circular economy, in the years ahead.
In the Manifest MVI (the Sustainable Procurement Manifesto) more than 200 public organisations have pledged to use their procurement to achieve societal goals.
CE Delft has analysed 72 action plans for socially responsible procurement of various local authorities and deduced a number of lessons for organisations that want to make similar plans.