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Sustainable Procurement Hub Project Shows the Advantages of an Exchange Hub Between Private and Public Actors

Take a ride into the beautiful back hills of the Bergische Land, past Lindlar and into the green, lush woods, towards :metabolon. A guide from :metabolon tells you that you have just climbed a landfill and you are standing on tonnes of household trash from the 1970s. Suddenly, it becomes very clear why end-of-life thinking is essential for sustainable procurement – and why a sustainable procurement hub is needed.

Through sustainable procurement organisations have the opportunity to realise their buying power. In May, we finished a project that explored the potentials of a Sustainable Procurement Hub to connect private and public organisations to share their procurement expertise. In the project, the CSCP conducted in depth interviews with experts on sustainable procurement. Workshops were held on three central aspects of successful sustainable procurement: change management, digitalisation and end-of-life thinking.

Taking stakeholders out of the meeting room and creating an interactive exhibition or taking them to a location that makes the topic tangible is an important approach for us that can make all the difference. For the third worshop we took the participants to :metabolon, the project of ‘Bergischer Abfallwirtschaftsverband’ and a site that has much more to offer than trash. From state of the art research facilities used in collaboration with different universities to talking trash cans that teach kids about trash in a fun and playful way, the site makes theoretical concepts blatantly obvious to the eyes and the nose. Talking about end-of-life thinking in a sustainable procurement workshop has a different dynamic and urgency when looking at the remains of products from a time when cradle-to-cradle was not a concern at all.

Our subsequent study shows the two main target groups ‑ municipalities and companies ‑ place a similarly high significance on sustainable procurement and sustainable supply chain management. While the identified challenges are similar in both groups, prefered solutions differ significantly. However, all solutions identified through interviews and workshops are based on an exchange among the target groups and on the involvement of civil society actors such as NGOs or regional initiatives. We therefore see that an exchange hub is not only needed but will also be met with broad support and interest.

We can identify the following top themes for such an exchange hub:

  • Market / supplier commitment
  • Labour rights and decent work
  • End-of-life and circular thinking
  • Reduction of internal and external costs
  • Consumer demand and acceptance
  • Rules and standards

Get an impression of the potential of an exchange hub on Sustainable Procurement: see a short video and hear a few sound bites from workshop participants!

The project is funded by Engagement Global, SKEW and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

For further information, please contact Janpeter Beckmann.

Photos by Marc Jahnen