"Green" Product Procurement Policy in the European Union: Treatment of Lifecycle Carbon Analysis and Environmental PPM Restrictions

Ganley, Shawna

The European Union has adopted policies to “green” its public purchasing to
promote environmental sustainability. With over nineteen percent of GDP in the EU spent on government procurement, the European Commission (EC) recognizes the potential impact of sustainable public procurement on the environment and the economy. This paper discusses EC central policy directives policy on government procurement of eco-friendly products through its “Green Product Program” (GPP), which seeks to foster a market for sustainable products through government buying power. Despite these
efforts, green procurement in the EU has had limited success, perhaps given that the EC’s procurement directives are primarily voluntary and due to differing priorities among EU countries, which can lead to wide variations in uptake of sustainable procurement policies. Further, even for countries that favor green procurement, the existing procurement directives leave unanswered the question of to what extent agencies may make purchasing decisions based on full lifecycle analysis or other environment-friendly
preferences for low-carbon production methods. Changes are underway, however, that will likely give EU Member States greater latitude to take these environmental factors into account. First, the EU’s emerging voluntary ‘lifecycle product footprint’ methodology, although not yet required in procurement, may help agencies assess the GHG impact of the products they procure, at least where vendors voluntarily disclose product ‘carbon footprints.’ Second, the European Commission’s efforts too overhaul its general procurement directives will give EU countries more leeway to account for upstream environmental impacts and “process and production methods” (PPMs). These steps will enable the EU to influence the market for green products by encouraging a shift towards upstream, supply chain carbon accounting.


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Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia University
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July 16, 2015