A Circular Economy for Public Authorities

A circular economy represents a key lever for public authorities to respond to environmental challenges (climate change, resource management that does not respect planetary limits, loss of biodiversity), while supporting the economic fabric of their region and creating local jobs. 

Public-sector figures have to provide an impetus in this respect. In the European Union, it is estimated that the purchase of public services, works and supplies accounts for 14% of the GDP*! By moving towards a circular economy, public procurement have the power to support environmentally-friendly, forward-looking companies. In addition, public-sector figures can thus show citizens and economic players the way to a greener, more local economy! 

To become circular, one of the main levers used by public authorities is to award contracts that incorporate various aspects of circularity. Opting for re-usable products, renovating a building with re-used materials, favouring the purchase of recycled or reconditioned goods, or leasing services rather than buying new goods are just some of the many ways through which public procurement can be made circular. Beyond public procurement, we can also pool and share resources, think about the maintenance of goods in order to extend their lifespan, re-sell unused equipment second-hand (when moving, for example) or optimise waste recycling.

How can I make circular purchases?

Circular public procurementHere are some of the different tools available to support public authorities in their circular purchasing:   

  • The sustainable public purchasing helpdesk:  all circular purchasing projects can be supported on an individual basis via the helpdesk. To do so, send your specifications and/or questions to: marchespublics.responsables@spw.wallonie.be. You should receive a reply within 10 days. This service is available to agents of the Public Service of Wallonia (SPW), Public Administration Units (UAPs) and Walloon local authorities (province, commune, etc.).
  • Clauses and tools specific to each public procurement: this tool lists the various possible clauses for each type of contract (supplies, services or works), in French.
  • The book  "Circular Purchasing in 8 Steps": a reference work on circular procurement in the Netherlands. It details the 8 steps required to achieve a circular purchasing process.
  • The thematic study (in French) on circular public purchasing commissioned by the Walloon Public Procurement Observatory. This study includes: 
    • an analysis of six exemplary and innovative cases of circular public procurement; 
    • a reflection on the transferability of the identified methods and good practices; 
    • highlighted focal points, pitfalls and recommendations.
  • The guide to responsible public procurement: (in French) details the different types of clauses, selection and award criteria... This is the summary document to consult before embarking on a public procurement containing circular clauses (as well as environmental, social or ethical clauses).
  • Introducing circularity into public real estate projects: This document drafted by the SPI development agency offers considerations and recommendations to support circularity within real estate projects that require a public procurement procedure.

Not sure where to start?

Do you need help with a specific project involving the circular economy?  The Circular Strategy Coordination Unit of Wallonia is available to help you implement more circular economy into your operations. If you have any questions, please contact us at: economie.circulaire@spw.wallonie.be.