4. Allow for social responsibility when formulating requirements

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When formulating a procurement request, provide sufficient scope for sustainable solutions. If you formulate your requirement in a more functional way, suppliers will have more scope to come up with sustainable solutions. Rather than asking for a specific product, such as cars with a particulate filter, simply state an intended objective, i.e. environmentally friendly transport.

An example of a procurement request that allowed scope for sustainable solutions is the one that the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management submitted to the market for an energy-neutral river crossing. Rather than stating a requirement for a bridge from A to B, with certain technical and social specifications, they invited the market to come up with smart solutions.

You could also look into the possibility of purchasing alternative products or services that are more sustainable. It is sometimes possible to cluster product groups together, or to make procurement more "comprehensive". Instead of purchasing chairs, desks and cabinets separately, you could, perhaps, submit a single tender to the market for an entire suite of office furniture. If you then provide a functional specification for the entire suite of office furniture, this will prompt the market to offer creative, innovative and sustainable solutions that you might not have thought of yourself.

Just providing scope for people to come up with new solutions is not always enough to incentivise contractors to innovate. It is important to specifically state that innovative tenders or sustainable alternatives are welcome. You can make a specific statement to this effect during the market consultation phase.

Further details: From prescribing to inviting