18% of Dutch footprint through government procurement

With the 'Netherlands Circular 2050' programme, the government aims to achieve a fully circular economy in the Netherlands by 2050 at the latest. RIVM research now shows that the government can make a significant contribution by sustainable public procurement. 23% of the raw materials needed for our standard of living are purchased through the government.

In 2019, the Dutch government purchased 85 billion euros worth of products and services. This is 15 percent of the total purchase of products and services in the Netherlands. The climate impact of this is 18 percent of the total Dutch climate footprint: that is 22 mega tons of CO2 equivalents. It is the first time that RIVM, together with two consultancy firms, has calculated concretely how much the entire Dutch government itself contributes to greenhouse gas emissions with its purchase of products and services.

Public procurement

In addition to the climate impact, the researchers looked at two other themes: the land use needed to make products and the use of raw materials. Government procurement comprises 23 percent of raw material consumption and 9 percent of land use of all procurement in the Netherlands. It is not only about the environmental impact of the use of products and services in the Netherlands, but also the impact on the entire chain: emissions during production, transport, use and processing into waste. These emissions therefore do not only take place in the Netherlands, but worldwide.

Environmental effects

The environmental effects differ greatly per product group. With the construction and maintenance of buildings and roads, construction appears to have a significant effect on all three themes. In terms of land use, catering contributes a lot. Machinery and electronics, among other things, have a major effect on the consumption of raw materials. The study shows that the government itself can also make a substantial contribution through its procurement to the energy transition, the transition to a Circular Economy and, through land use in the chain, the reduction of Biodiversity loss.

Socially Responsible Procurement

With Socially responsible procurement (in Dutch: MVI), the Dutch government wants to use its purchasing power to work towards a climate neutral, circular and socially inclusive economy. Insight into the difference in impact between products and services that the government purchases can help in choosing focus. RIVM therefore developed a method with the consultancy firms Metabolic and Purfacts to find out how much government organizations spend in total, on which products and services and what their environmental impact is. With the results from the method, the government can make targeted choices to reduce the environmental impact with MVI.

This post originally appeared in Dutch on
Find the research webpage here.