Government takes steps to promote ‘green’ procurement

‘Over €12bn is invested by the State each year. This investment can now be leveraged to focus on sustainability as a key criteria’

The State is to change how it buys goods and services in a bid to drive more environmentally-friendly practices. All government contracts will soon have a climate change element, according to a circular published on Monday. More than €12 billion is invested by the State every year.

The move on green public procurement (GPP) is on foot of commitments in the Government’s Climate Action Plan published this year. It requires every public body to have a climate mandate, including the use of public procurement, to deliver change.

"This circular demonstrates the Government's priority in promoting GPP by asking departments and State offices to consider the inclusion of green criteria in their procurements in the context of its wider commitments under its climate action plan published earlier this year," said Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

The circular – Promoting the use of Environmental and Social Considerations in Public Procurement – “is a positive development and provides a clear signal of the direction of travel”, Mr Donohoe said.


The green procurement plan is about leveraging the State’s purchasing power to advance more environmentally-friendly goods, services and works, and helps contribute to more sustainable consumption and production, he added.

The Government has agreed there will be a phased introduction of green criteria targeting priority products and services, as well as building appropriate green criteria into Office of Government Procurement (OGP) procedures.

Proactively promoting green buying is also in line with the European Commission’s priority of using procurement in a more strategic manner.

Mr Donohoe said he was working closely with Minister for Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton and Minister of State Patrick O'Donovan, who is responsible for the OGP, "on the practical steps necessary to give effect to this important policy".

Critical tool

Mr Bruton said the development had the potential to be a critical tool as the climate action plan was rolled out.

“It will ensure State contracts include the full life cycle cost of our purchases. Over €12 billion is invested by the State each year. This investment can now be leveraged to focus on sustainability as a key criteria, which is not only important from a climate perspective but will also ensure that true value for money is obtained.”

Mr O’Donovan said the circular sent an important signal of the Government’s commitment to opening public procurement up to both environmental and social considerations.

“A wide range of policy areas come under the heading of social considerations including, for example, environmental sustainability, disability access, training for young or disadvantaged people, social enterprises and increasing access for SMEs and start-ups.”

The Government's climate plan is designed to ensure that Ireland reaches it 2030 carbon emissions reduction targets, and to put the country on a trajectory to have net-zero emissions by 2050.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times