Climate impact of sustainable government operations

The Dutch government is taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of its agencies’ procurement practices and the annual report on these agencies provides more information on the environmental gains achieved via several specific Sustainable Public Procurement measures. CE Delft has estimated the CO2 emissions cuts of six of these to gain an idea of the rough magnitude of the savings thus achieved.

By far the greatest cuts followed from changes in electricity procurement: 47,000 t CO2-eq. In the case of electricity, there is considerable discussion as to whether government procurement leads to additional production of green power in the Netherlands and what share of the associated emission cuts are to be attributed to government. A conservative approach based on economic allocation (10% of cuts allocated to government) still shows, however, that green electricity procurement led to the greatest CO2 cuts.

These gains were followed by three activities involving reuse and recycling of materials and products:

  1. Returned working apparel: collection, sorting and reuse of used working apparel and associated items rather than procurement of new items. Cuts achieved in 2016 by Ministry of Defence: 1,975 t CO2-eq.
  2. Recycling of discarded apparel to blankets rather than use of new materials. Cuts achieved in 2016 by Ministry of Defence: 1,081 t CO2-eq.
  3. Government Marketplace: purchase of second-hand furniture via Government Marketplace. Cuts achieved based on minimum gains in 2017 by ten ministries: 323 t CO2-eq.

Finally, two pilot cases for procurement of sustainable materials were assessed:

  1. Recycled cotton: procurement of towels, flannels and overalls made of recycled cotton. Cuts achieved in 2016 by Ministry of Defence: 25 t CO2-eq.
  2. Ordering of ‘green lunches’ rather than conventional lunches for a small fraction of meeting lunches. Cuts achieved January-June 2017 at two sites: 6.6 t CO2-eq.