Following last year’s general election, Sweden’ s new government is exploring strategic ways to increase the focus on sustainability public purchasing. Minister for Public Administration, Ardalan Shekarabi wants to develop public and private sector purchasing into a driver of sustainable development. As part of this effort Shekarabi has invited third party sustainability labels and certifications – including TCO Certified – to contribute their expertise.
Several labeling and certification programs active in Sweden are already collaborating on an effort to help public entities include social and environmental responsibility factors in their tenders. The goal is for at least 50% of products procured in the public sector to carry a third party environmental or sustainability certification by the year 2020.
Sweden’s public sector buys between 50-80 billion Euro in goods and services every year. For EU the figures are 2000 billion Euro and stands for at least 20 percent of the GNP for EU-countries. Some initiatives to increase the focus on sustainability are already being put in place, such as a new public procurement authority and a national purchasing strategy that includes targets for how purchasing activities should contribute to sustainability targets.
Later this year, new legislation will also be introduced (implementation of the new EU Public Purchasing Directive). This legislation makes provisions for purchasers to place greater focus on social and environmental specifications.
Gabriella Mellstrand, Marketing Director at TCO Development supports the engagement with the new administration; “It’s a very positive step to see this strategic approach toward purchasing, which can have a positive effect on the public sector as well as society as a whole. We are pleased to collaborate with Minister Shekarabi in this initiative – the time to act is now if we are to make progress in areas like climate impact, the environment and global poverty.
Mellstrand continues: “ Third party certifications are a resource-efficient tool for including sustainability criteria in purchasing bids and also for verifying that the products in a bid actually meet the specified criteria. For public purchasers, all over Europe, being able to rely on a third party certification helps them save time and resources as they can rely on a third party for criteria setting, verification and follow up.