Environmental criteria in public procurement: Focus on tender documents

Katriina Alhola

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


    Green public procurement (GPP) is about setting environmental criteria in the public procurement process alongside the traditional purchasing criteria, e.g. price, quality and technical features of products, services and works. GPP is considered to be one of the key policies that could be used to promote the change of unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.The use of environmental procurement criteria has increased during this decennium, as it has been promoted by many international and national policies and programmes. Nevertheless, how does this push for greener public procurement comply with the primary aims of public procurement legislation – guaranteeing the best value for taxpayers’ money and the operability of the internal market? The challenge is to combine economic and environmental issues so that purchasing decisions are compliant with law and jurisprudence. In this thesis, this issue is analyzed by examining the relations of environmental and economic aspects as well as environmental and legal aspects in public procurement.This thesis uses several methods and tools to assess the greenness of public procurement; an analysis of purchasing criteria, life cycle assessment and eco-label criteria. Environmental criteria found in the tender documents are mirrored to the existing European procurement directives and case law. The relation between economy and environment is studied within the concept of the most economically advantageous tender as defined in the EU’s public procurement directives. Its content and applicability in the assessment of economic and environmental performance of a purchase is opened for discussion.The results of this thesis suggest that economical, environmental and legal aspects can be combined in public procurement, though the linking of green criteria is specific to a single contract. Despite the increased amount of green criteria in tender documents (i.e. calls for tenders and contracts), they mainly focus on those aspects that are undoubtedly covered by the procurement directives – possibly excluding some of the important environmental impacts of the product or service from a life cycle perspective. However, systematically presented green criteria in calls for tenders could give a signal to the manufacturers of the demand for environmentally preferable solutions, and encourage them to invest in developing green products, i.e. eco-design.
    Translated title of the contributionYmpäristökriteerit julkisissa hankinnoissa : tutkimuskohteena tarjousasiakirjat
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor's degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    Print ISBNs978-952-11-4069-3
    Electronic ISBNs978-952-11-4070-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


    • green public procurement
    • procurement directives
    • call for tender
    • procurement contract
    • environmental criteria
    • the most economically advantageous tender
    • life cycle
    • eco-label
    • eco-design


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