Public procurement principles drafted for wood-based products

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Public procurement principles for wood-based products facilitate purchasing projects and negotiations between public buyers – the State and the municipalities – and product manufacturers. They provide the prerequisites for choosing wood-based products and also serve as an example for the other EU Member States in their development of public procurement guidelines.

The origins and environmental impact of wood-based products are known

The principles consider the full lifecycle of wood-based products. They determine how the legality and sustainability of wood raw material can be verified with respect to the requirements of legislation and international treaties. The environmental impact of production and final disposal are also taken into account.

The EU’s aim is to promote sustainable development by making public procurements greener. Finland has also made a decision-in-principle to encourage public actors to take sustainability into better consideration when making procurements.

The environmental impact of products becoming an increasingly important selection criterion in public procurements

These newly drafted principles provide an avenue through which the decision made by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy in September 2009 can be implemented. The Committee proposed that public procurement policies and building regulations be specified in such a way that gives priority to products made out of renewable natural resources for climate- and environment-related reasons.

The Government has put in place a detailed schedule for increasing the consideration of environmental aspects in public procurements: by 2015, all procurements made by the central administration must take their environmental impact into account. A recommendation for considering the environmental aspect of procurements in at least half of all purchases made by municipalities and the State’s regional authorities will also enter into force in 2015.

Competence of and support for public buyers are key

Public procurement legislation and the central principles observed by public buyers – non-discrimination, openness, equal treatment and relativity – define the foundation for all public procurement activities. Regulations also require that environmental aspects are considered in several phases of the procurement process.

As the total value of annual public procurements in Finland is around €23 billion, the choices made by public buyers – the State and the municipalities – have a substantial impact in the steering of consumption. Public actors create demand for environment-friendly alternatives and serve as an example for the private sector to follow.

Small procurement units in particular can be uncertain about finding and interpreting the information needed for their procurement decisions. This is behind the working group’s proposal for the implementation of training programmes for public procurement employees and providing support for procurers by, for example, developing procurement document templates. In addition to this, procurers should have access to an information service. The forest industry is participating in the development of procurement activities by providing information on the environmental impacts of products as well as on existing verification methods.

Broad-based working group

In February 2010, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy appointed a broad-based working group to define public procurement principles for wood-based products. Different ministries (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Finance), expert organisations (Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, Motiva, Confederation of Finnish Industries EK, Finnish Forest Industries Federation), public procurement representatives (Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, Hansel Ltd, City of Espoo) and the WWF participated in the preparations.

More information: Aila Janatuinen, Director, Finnish Forest Industries, tel. +358 9 132 6670