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19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

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Public Procurement for a Circular Economy

The impacts of consumption have been outlined, with increasing implications on the environment and resources. In response, the transition to a circular economy (CE) has received increased attention from consumers and other stakeholders as an approach to overcome unsustainable patterns of production and consumption in order to improve resource efficiency. Furthermore, while the concept of the circular economy is not new, far less attention has been focused on the role of consumption, and in particular procurement, in influencing industry to promote the circular economy. Considering the amount of products and services procured every year, public authorities have the possibility to influence suppliers and manufacturers. The new EU Directive on Public Procurement in 2014 includes requirements for possibilities to set criteria covering the entire product life cycle of a product and meeting sustainability goals through technical specifications. This provides new opportunities to explore circular economy through public procurement. First, this paper proposes a definition of circular procurement and how it differs from commonly used concepts such as Green Public Procurement and Sustainable Public Procurement. Secondly, this paper seeks to address the current use of circular economy concepts and indicators in public procurement. A literature study including both academic and grey literature is used to capture the published cases and to provide an overview of the types of products and services procured, in addition to dominate sectors. Also, the use of the term circular economy in these cases will be discussed. Furthermore, barriers and challenges will be addressed as well as opportunities and perceived benefits for implementing criteria and indicators for circular procurement. By presenting and analyzing the current state for circular public procurement and the way it is used in different sectors, this paper provides a foundation and direction for developing criteria for the sectors, identifying potential policy measures and can lead to future research within the topic.

Sofia Lingegård
KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Michael Martin
IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute


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