Responsible procurement and circular economy

Responsible procurement reduces negative environmental impacts and promotes positive impacts. The city will also be able to support the creation of responsible markets by leading the way in the development and implementation of new solutions that are energy- and material-efficient and promote the circular economy and the preservation of biodiversity.
SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production
SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Procurement can contribute to sustainability on a large scale

The City of Helsinki’s annual procurement volume is approximately €4 billion, making it Finland’s largest operator engaging in public procurement. Helsinki is committed to promoting environmental, social and economic responsibility in its procurement, and the city has a comprehensive network of responsible procurement.

In accordance with the city’s environmental policy, environmental impact assessment must be carried out in all procurements exceeding the national threshold value. The promotion of responsible procurement is implemented in particular by the City of Helsinki’s procurement strategy, which was approved by the City Board in December 2020.

In the new procurement strategy, Helsinki places greater emphasis on the responsibility and effectiveness of procurement. The three main themes of the strategy are functional markets and promoting innovations; impact and responsibility; and procurement management and procurement skills.

Although Helsinki is very committed to promoting responsible procurement at the upper level, there is still work to be done in the implementation of the objectives. The challenge has been to systematically link the responsibility criteria to the procurement processes, which would require better procurement management, training and awareness-raising.

In addition, monitoring and impact assessment should be developed. In order to facilitate the preparation of procurement, the city’s common criteria bank was established in 2020 to collect successful examples of the responsibility criteria used in procurement.

Helsinki invests in low-carbon procurement

In particular, there is still work to be done in acknowledging global responsibility and human rights and in promoting the circular economy and nature-based solutions. Better progress has been made in taking environmental and climate considerations into account, as well as in employment through procurement.

Helsinki has begun to take climate impacts into account in its procurement through the six-year Canemure project. The aim of using carbon footprint calculation is to take better account of climate impacts in procurement. The project has put emission reduction measures into practice and carried out development work in, among other things, building and infrastructure construction and food, textile and ICT procurement.

In 2020, Helsinki also signed Green Deal agreements for emission-free construction sites and the reduction of harmful substances in procurement in early childhood education. The Green Deal is a voluntary agreement between the state and the public sector or business sector to reduce emissions and harmful substances.

Circular economy has progressed slowly

Helsinki has recognised the significance of the circular and sharing economy in solving major sustainability challenges. New models of the sharing economy created by residents and businesses diversify the city socially and financially.

In accordance with the Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 Action Plan, the City has prepared a road map for the circular and sharing economy, the time span and goals of which extend to 2035. Work in Helsinki is only just beginning, and the implementation of the road map requires additional resources for, among other things, the implementation and monitoring of measures, personnel training, surveys and various pilots.

Until now, the circular economy has not grown to a very large extent, but its importance is expected to increase in the future. The circular economy has so far been promoted mainly through the use of recycled materials and soil masses in infrastructure construction, which have also achieved significant emission and cost savings.

The circular economy is also promoted through the city’s new demolition guidelines and, at the same time, the capacity and utilisation possibilities of the city’s own recycling operators have been investigated. Furniture recycling and the Tavarat Kiertoon recycling system have also been developed, but there is still work to be done. To support phenomenon-based learning, the KIERRE model for future skills from circular economy has been developed, combining natural resource awareness, climate understanding, design education and creative learning.

Successes

  • The new procurement strategy places a strong emphasis on responsibility.
  • Guidelines and cooperation have been developed to promote responsible procurement. The Canemure project has contributed to the development of low-carbon procurement.
  • A road map for the circular and sharing economy has been prepared to promote the circular economy. The promotion of the circular economy has started in many ways: for example, through demolition guidelines, the Kierre concept for circular economy education at schools and the circular economy cluster.

Development targets

  • The circular economy and sustainable procurement have not yet been sufficiently promoted, and many targets are progressing too slowly.

Links to related programmes, reports and websites