The selling potential of the “green” sticker is huge. Especially if it appears in a press release of a respected state authority in connection with successful public procurement. In the last few years this combination has become more common because of “green public procurement” (“GPP”).

GPP, or green purchasing is a set of rules helping contracting authorities identify environmentally preferable bids. Although not binding, GPP is in accordance with EU Procurement Directives currently in place. GPP is defined in the European Commission’s Communication as, “a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life-cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured”. This means that besides the commonly used criteria, public procurements should also consider the environmental impact.

Contracting authorities can apply techniques such as life-cycle costing, specification of sustainable production processes, and use of environmental award criteria throughout the entire procurement process (including pre-procurement, procurement process itself and the performance of the contract). This results in increased demands on tenderers and promotion of innovation and sustainable solutions – which works fantastically as a marketing tool for successful tenderers.

The European Commission has published a handbook on GPP (currently in its 3rd edition) that provides useful information and data on implementing GPP and necessary trainings for authorities. However, the main barrier to GPP implementation may be the lack of political support and the expected higher prices of green products.

Bulgaria

GPP is not imperative in Bulgaria, but it can be applied to all procedures. The only obligation of tenderers under the Bulgarian Public Procurement Act regarding environmental impact is to declare compliance with environment protection legislation when participating in construction or services tenders. Additional requirements related to GPP can be introduced in the tender documentation and tender notice upon contracting authorities’ discretion.

GPP is not yet widely popular in Bulgaria with only 10% of last year’s tenders marked as “green”. The main reasons for this are expectations for higher price and the fact that many GPPs are not officially marked by the contracting authorities as such. The government is currently promoting environmentally friendly solutions, including through a joint program with Switzerland and numbers of GPPs are expected to grow in coming years.

Czech Republic

Green, sustainable and socially responsible public procurement is highly encouraged in Czech Republic. The government passed the “Resolution On the Rules of Applying a Responsible Approach to Public Procurement” in 2017 which entrusts the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment with the task of developing a methodology for an environmentally responsible approach to public procurement. GPP principles have both political and social support, but binding regulation or methodology is still awaited in the Czech Republic.

Hungary

In Hungary, the public procurement rules do not provide for the mandatory application of GPP, however, they highly encourage it. The rules in effect provide for a number of opportunities that enable the application of GPP, especially with provisions related to lifecycle costing and contract award criteria that reflect environmental considerations. The Hungarian Public Procurement Authority also welcomes GPPs and in order to aid those interested, it continuously publishes materials on this topic (e.g. availability of related websites, studies, EU guidance, and newsletters).

Poland

There is no separate act on GPP; however, the Polish Act on Public Procurement provides some instruments that contribute to the promotion of sustainable development, such as the inclusion of environmental criteria into tender procedures. According to recent research by the Polish Public Procurement Office, 11.4 % of all public procurement in Poland is green. This is predicted to grow over the next few years.

Romania

GPP is regulated in Romanian public procurement laws which implement EU Procurement Directives. These provisions are not binding on national authorities, but rather constitute recommendations which may be implemented in the procurement process. This is one reason why in practice there is limited use of GPP in Romania.

Prior to the adoption of national legislation implementing the EU Procurement Directives, Romania had adopted a separate law governing green public procurement, Law no. 69/2016 on green public procurement (“GPP Law”) which was intended to ensure that contracting authorities in Romania observe annual GPP thresholds . Both the lack of correlation between the GPP Law and the laws implementing the EU Procurement Directives, as well as the authorities’ failure to adopt a national guide and plan on GPP criteria, render the GPP Law ineffective. According to public sources, in the near future, the provisions of the GPP Law will be correlated with the general legislative framework on public procurement and minimum GPP thresholds will be implemented, starting from 1% to 5% in 2020.

Slovakia

Although no binding measures on GPP have been adopted into Slovakian national legislation, existing public procurement laws enable GPP’s implementation in almost any procurement process. Using GPP is widely supported and the number of the green procurements is increasing. Several successful projects have been nominated for the “GPP Award”.