The term “procurement” usually is attributed to state authorities that are obliged to comply with public procurement rules. In addition, certain requirements can be applied to private companies receiving public grants via grant contracts.

Voluntary procurement procedures frequently exist in private companies, because they benefit from a structured and defined procedure for purchasing their input materials. Procurement systems may also be requested by standardised or certified environmental or quality management system or by customers. Procurement systems can significantly improve the environmental performance of a company, as less hazardous or environmentally damaging products are identified, purchased and used.

Companies can build their procurement policy covering two areas:

  1. Procedures, responsibilities and criteria to define technical quality requirements for the incoming raw materials, including on their environmental and chemical performance;
  2. Rules for good supply chain management, including selection criteria for suppliers, communication standards and routines as well as contracting procedures with suppliers.  

It is important for any procurement system that the requested quality of incoming raw materials is also controlled and that in case of non-compliance consequences are taken, including cancelling a supply contract, if necessary.

With regard to content of hazardous substances of raw materials (articles and chemicals), a procurement system should include routines for requesting and checking hazard information (e.g. chemical label and safety data sheets) prior to the purchasing decision. This includes cases where the client proposes the use of certain materials (e. g. construction materials or cleaning services) and where negotiations would benefit from knowledge on the hazard profile of the materials in question.

When costs are considered in the purchasing decisions, inclusion of benefits or additional costs from the (non-)use of hazardous chemicals should be included in the overall assessment.

Beginners guide to green procurement for enterprises - a tool for the better management of hazardous substances – helps enterprises that aim at higher efficiency, among others by improving the management of raw materials and chemicals containing hazardous substances. The guidelines contain an explanatory introduction and an Excel tool with checklists and examples for the development or improvement of the internal procurement system.