Public procurement standards can incorporate bans on single-use plastic items, as well as targets and incentives for reusables, enabling procurement teams to incorporate reusable products at suitable venues.
TARGET USERS: Government
KEY CONSIDERATIONS: Public procurement policies give preference to environmentally preferable products and services for government operations and contracts, however these products and services can often come at an increased cost.
MORE INFORMATION: Action Plan to Reduce Plastic Pollution in the Oslo Fjord 2019-2020
Single-use plastics continue to be the cheapest option to individuals, businesses and government, as environmental costs are externalized to the environment.
The City of Oslo is a large and fragmented organization with about 55,000 employees, and one of Norway's largest purchasers. The City's large purchasing power can influence the market, but such influence comes with a significant responsibility for setting the sustainable example. Finding the best alternatives to single-use products can be difficult as the whole life-cycle of the product should be taken into consideration.
Further, the EU plastic Directive will be enforced in Norway, requiring the City to not only incorporate into their public procurement policies, but to also ensure the policies are implemented city-wide.
There are a range of policy measures available to governments to support the transition from single-use plastics to reusables, and public procurement is viewed as an optimal way for governments to lead the transition using taxpayer dollars for environmentally preferable purchasing policies.
Public procurement standards should be reviewed to incorporate bans on single-use items, as well as targets and incentives for reusables, enabling procurement teams to incorporate reusable products for suitable venues.
As Norway’s second largest public sector purchaser, the City of Oslo has considerable purchasing power that can have considerable impact on the consumption of single-use plastics.
The City of Oslo will, through their public procurement policies, change their consumption behavior and reduce the unnecessary use of plastic in municipal bodies by supporting products that contribute to a circular economy, products that are designed for recycling and encourage reuse.
The City of Oslo has mapped all purchases of plastic products across the municipality, with particular attention on single-use plastics, to fully grasp the scale of use of plastic products in the municipality. By mapping plastic consumption, the City was able to identify which products were problematic and which agencies they needed to target.
The City is also working on building a culture of reducing the use of single-use plastic and disposable products by facilitating a process of change with a City manual on plastic smart purchasing. New procurement framework agreements will also include strict climate and environmental requirements, which focus on high rates of reuse, recycling, recovery and sharing.
The City is working on new purchasing agreements to include strict requirements that reduce the use of single-use plastics.
Public procurement policies that favor reusable items over single-use plastics are often supported by bans on single-use items.
City of Oslo
Cotton swabs made of plastic are top two waste item found at beaches in Oslo. As a result the City of Oslo took out plastic cotton swabs from the assortment of the procurement agreement for medical supplies, and replaced it with cotton swabs made of paper. The City of Oslo buy approximately 40,000 swabs annually made of plastic. Through this small action, the City of Oslo potentially reduces cotton swabs from getting astray.
The City of Oslo has an ambition to phase out all use of unnecessary, single-use plastic articles in the canteens. They had a pilot project within one of the municipal bodies where they phased out all use of unnecessary single-use plastics within the canteen and office building. The pilot project was successful and based on the results, the City outlined a guidance document for plastic smart eateries with simple and effective measures that can be applied to all canteens in the municipal bodies.
EU Member States spend around €200 billion annually on catering services. There is a huge opportunity to lead by example and apply higher standards to purchasing decisions that incentivize a shift from single-use to reusables, create a road map for other public policies and the private sector to follow, and a platform for the circular economy. For example, in 2016, the City of Hamburg introduced GPP rules which banned municipal use of items including coffee capsules, single-use bottles and utensils, and introduced reusable cups to several public institutions, including cafeterias of public administration and the police academy. The move stopped the use of up to 675,000 single-use cups each year.
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