7 lessons learned from the Green Deal Circular Procurement
Design of workplaces based on the needs of the user and following an inventory of existing office furnishings.
Specify in terms of function
Include functional needs in contract documents instead of writing detailed technical specifications. You might need office chairs or seating areas, for example, or a whole new workplace layout. Define this need in consultation with your internal customers. Also, think about how you can anticipate changing needs in the future. By specifying functional and future-proof solutions, you give the market flexibility to propose innovations.
Maintenance, repair and reuse
If universal standard parts and dimensions are used, and the products are designed for disassembly as much as possible, repair and reuse is easier and the lifespan can be extended. You can include this as-a-service maintenance and repair in your contract documents. Providing training on how to use equipment correctly might also be a good idea.
Circular procurement = circular?
You can decide to buy refurbished furnishings or new products with a label or materials passport, but whether these are actually circular depends on what happens with them during use and at the end-of-life. Is maintenance and repair given due attention? Are the materials recovered when the chair is no longer fit for purpose? You can promote circularity by making contractual agreements with the supplier about take-back or replacement.
Compare the options
Comparing the different options over the entire lifespan clarifies the business case for the circular option. For example, you can compare the purchase of new material against refurbishing or as-a-service contracts. Take into account the circularity and sustainability of each option to get a complete picture. Refurbishment is usually comparable in price to the purchase of a new product, just as the warranty and technical lifespan are comparable, so circularity can be used as the distinguishing criterion.
Dialogue with the market
Contact between the provider and the purchaser is extremely valuable. Deciding on a specific product or service and collecting information about it is the result of personal contact. It’s important that the preparatory phase is long enough so that there’s time to discuss more than just the price.
Office furnishings usually have a longer functional and technical lifespan than the standard contract term of 4 years, so it’s a good idea to consider longer contracts and warranty periods. You can build flexibility into these to respond to the changing needs of the organisation. An alternative may be to make arrangements for take-back or take-over at the end of the contract term.