The City of Aalborg pioneered circular procurement in Denmark with a project involving school furniture in 2016. It was the first fully circular tender in the country and attracted a great deal of attention. Two years ago, the municipality expanded their circularity focus to also include IT products.

“When we first started speaking to the IT departments, they said their only objective was to get IT equipment for employees so that they could do their jobs. They use 2.5 percent of the total procurement budget and they had not included sustainability in their demands,” says Birgitte Krebs Schleemann, project manager for sustainability procurement at the City of Aalborg.

She is working to implement circular procurement practices at the municipality and has cooperated with IT staff and management to incorporate circular and sustainable elements into processes and daily habits.

The City of Aalborg has seven different political departments — all with their own IT departments. This made the change process more extensive and complex. The first step Birgitte took was to interview all the municipality’s IT teams to understand their daily business and priorities.

“I visited the seven departments, asking a series of questions. How do they buy equipment? How often are laptops replaced? Do they repair products and how do they dispose of products that no one is using anymore?”

“They had never talked about this before. It was a whole new world for them. Initially, I thought that the seven departments were very different but then I realized that they all needed the same thing. It’s been a long process though, because each department wanted to do this in their own way.”

Birgitte learned that notebook computers were often thrown out after only three to four years. IT departments saw no value in discarded IT products, they just wanted help to get rid of them.