Formulate ambitions & call for proposal
To ensure successful circular procurement project it is important that the cooperating parties have matching ambitions. The starting point is a clear definition of your own ambition for the procurement project. This also includes an assessment of your specific needs: what are you really hoping to achieve? For example, do you need new office chairs or good office chairs (that need not necessarily be new)? Or, do you need lamps or do you need lighting? Thinking in terms of the deeper needs of an organisation reveals more opportunities for circular solutions.
High performance with regard to the circular economy starts with defining a clear ambition for your procurement project. Build on the ambitions and policies of your organisation and refine them for the product group you are procuring. For instance, are you aiming to reduce the use of raw materials, or do you want to maximise the value of residual flows?
CircularIQ has developed a model to support this process. This model – illustrated in the figure below – represents five possible circular objectives for procurement projects (A to E). A choice for one or more objectives leads to various possible strategies (for example A1 to A5). Find an objective and a strategy that fits the product group you want to procure. On the basis of these objectives you can measure the impact of your procurement once the contract has been awarded.
Five possible circular objectives, including possible related strategies, as defined by CircularIQ. Source: CircularIQ (2018)
A lot of calls for proposal are mainly based on technical specifications with the client dictating the required product specifications. If you want to make your specifications more functional, you must begin by thoroughly exploring the deeper needs of your organisation. The use of functional specifications opens up opportunities to reach innovative and often more circular solutions. These innovative solutions were not prescribed but they do better fit the client's needs.
For example, in your search for a healthy office environment you can either opt for a technical specification (“an office of 2,500 m2 with measures X, Y and Z”) or use a functional specification (“a healthy working environment for 500 employees”). Functional specifications allow contractors to include the most recent developments and use their own creativity to fulfil the client's needs.
In veel sectoren wordt op dit moment gewerkt aan de transitie naar een circulaire economie. Steeds meer marktpartijen hebben eerste ervaringen en zijn al aan de slag. Vanuit de Rijksoverheid worden steeds meer richtinggevende strategieën opgesteld, die richting geven aan het meer circulair maken van een bepaalde categorie. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan de strategie Naar een circulaire kantoorinrichting of de strategie Naar een circulaire Catering.
- Formulate a circular ambition that fits both the product group and the policies of your organisation.
- At the start of the procurement project determine the deeper needs of your organisation instead of the derived product request.
- Functional specifications better fulfil the needs and at the same time allow you to take advantage of the market's knowledge and innovative potential.
- Functional specifications are not sacrosanct! When dealing with an immature market or a simple product, technical specifications with due regard for circularity may provide the necessary guidance for market players.
GVB is the Amsterdam provider of public transport, and a major consumer of electricity. The company is inextricably linked with the city and its ambitions. Amsterdam wants to be climate-neutral by 2025, which poses a major challenge for GVB. Which is why since 2019 Nuon/Vattenfall supplies 100% Dutch green electricity to GVB. Much of this electricity is generated by a dedicated wind farm.
The Dutch Rijn en IJssel Water Authority has built an installation for the production of Kaumera in Zutphen. Kaumera is a new biological raw material produced from sludge granules. The new building must support the circular aspect of the process: transforming waste into raw material.
Step 3 from the eBook Circular procurement in 8 Steps (pp.66-75) details how to determine the level of functionality of your request.
This study summarizes experiences with functional specifications and offers practical advice on when this is useful and when it is not.
The online tool developed by CircularIQ helps you to define your circular objectives and strategies for a procurement project.
This publication helps you formulate functional specifications.