Information drought ‘impeding take-up of green procurement’

Some local governments struggle to implement green purchasing policies because of a lack of baseline/assessment of such procurement policies in the public sector.

According to a new University of New South Wales (UNSW) Business School report, municipalities that track their green purchasing policies are more likely to elevate the importance of green purchasing in their routines and practices.

The report defines green purchasing policies as a set of activities undertaken by an organisation to implement purchasing that reduces negative effects on the environment (eg, waste generation).

To learn more about sustainable procurement policy implementation in local governments, researchers from UNSW and the Arizona State University’s (ASU) Sustainable Purchasing Research Initiative (SPRI) surveyed finance, procurement, waste management and other professionals in sustainability-related positions across 160 municipalities.

Just over 60 percent of respondents reported that their municipalities had green procurement policies, with 39 percent reporting no policy – evidence that there is still more to be done.

In this respect, the report says the intervention of state and federal governments is necessary to foment the adoption and implementation of green purchasing practices across the Australian public sector.

Based on these findings and their review of prior work in the procurement area, researchers have developed seven recommendations aimed at increasing municipalities’ green purchasing policy adoption and implementation success:

  • Build on complementary policies and practices;
  • Use information about environmentally preferred products such as those that receive eco-label certifications.
  • Utilise e-procurement systems that integrate environmental product information
  • Track spending related to green purchases
  • Enhance collaborative vendor relationships
  • Foster a culture for innovation; and
  • Participate in professional networks to share

The Advancing Green Purchasing in Australian Municipalities report is available for download.