The public sector in Norway purchases products and services for more then 300 billion NOK per year.
This purchasing power can play an important role in leveraging the market share of environmentally
sound products by increasing the level of environmental requirements in public contracts.
Environmental considerations in public procurement have been on the international agenda since
the 1992 conference in Rio, and the OECD, the EU and the Nordic Council of Ministers have also
placed Green Public Procurement (GPP) on their agendas. Together with statements from the 2002
World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, they all underline GPP as a tool for
making a shift to more sustainable production and consumption practices.
In Norway, the Government launched a Norwegian Action Plan on Environmental and Social
Responsibility in Public Procurement in 2007. The aim of the plan was to encourage the public sector
to demand environmentally sound products and services. However, several previous studies that
have assessed the status of GPP show that, despite efforts to promote environmental considerations,
there is a long way to go before these are fully integrated into public procurement practice
The aim of this study was to produce information about how widespread the use of environmental
criteria are in Norway, and to identify what drivers and barriers are seen to influence the GPP status.
Based on experiences from other studies, the method design chosen was an analysis of tender
documents complemented by case studies with interviews. Using both methods provided a way of
balancing the results so as to get the most objective status scores on GPP together with more
detailed answers on perceived drivers and barriers.
The results revealed that almost 60% of all tender documents included some kind of environmental
criteria, but 1/3 of these were so unclear that it was doubtful as to whether or not they would result
in any green procurement. Of the product groups that were in focus, the one that included paper and
print was by far the “greenest” of the groups, with the others both containing less GPP and more
unclear criteria. Compared to other studies this puts Norway at the same level as Sweden, and shows
a slight improvement in total GPP compared to previous assessments. Still, taking the high amount of
unclear criteria into account may lower the overall GPP score.
The interview results indicated that lack of knowledge, focus on economic considerations and
product functionality, lack of support and management focus and work pressure were the five main
barriers preventing GPP. Increased co-operation, increased focus from management, simplification of
criteria and more available products with environmental labels were identified as drivers. The drivers
and barriers identified correspond to those of previous studies, with some new finding such as
identifying the lack of product specific knowledge, where previous studies have focused more on lack
of procurement knowledge.
The findings are all important when it comes to working out a strategy to follow up the Norwegian
Action Plan. They give information about the needs identified by the procurement officers
themselves, thus giving an indication of what initiatives to prioritise.
2008. , 84 p.