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City of Cape Town Finalises Green Procurement Action Plan

  • Published on March 23, 2021
Taking action on the commitment to operationalise and institutionalise sustainability through procurement.

The City of Cape Town (the City) is taking action on its’ commitment to operationalise and institutionalise sustainability through procurement. The City recently finalised a Green Procurement Action Plan, which was developed through extensive engagement and input from across line functions in the City. The City has a long history of adopting successful green procurement projects and practices in a number of its operations. These include, for example, the retrofit of all City traffic lights with energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LED) or energy efficiency retrofits of many City-owned buildings.

Further, the City has committed to implementing green procurement in its operations and capital projects, through its Environmental Strategy. In addition, green procurement has already been included in the City’s Supply Chain Management Policy as one of seven desired outcomes, which creates the conditions for consideration of environmental concerns to be included in procurement decisions.

Cape Town continues to build on its leadership supported through ICLEI and membership in the Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement, one of 15 select cities committed to achieving climate goals and sustainability targets through SPP. The Green Procurement Action Plan thus seeks to give effect to the City’s commitment to green procurement and to consolidate and mainstream the implementation of green procurement in the City. The overall aim of the action plan is to define a set of principles to guide green procurement decision-making, define a set of desired objectives and outcomes for the City to strive towards achieving, and layout the specific actions required to effectively transition towards green procurement in all of the City’s operations and purchasing decisions.

The Action Plan is underpinned by four key principles:

  • Life-cycle approach: Procurement decisions should consider the whole life-cycle of a product or service. As such, products or services which may represent a short-term saving at the expense of long-term negative environmental impacts, or those which have the potential to create significant negative externalities, should be avoided.
  • Preventing, Minimising, and Mitigating Impacts: Procurement decisions should ensure that any potential negative environmental and social impacts of a product or service to be procured are prevented, and where these cannot be completely prevented, minimised or mitigated.
  • Resource Efficiency: Procurement decisions should ensure that products and services take into account the need for resource efficiency, both in terms of services that the City provides to the public and the day-to-day running of its own operations.
  • Circular Economy: Procurement decisions should ensure products and services take into account the three principles of circularity, namely: design out waste and pollution; keep products and materials in use by purchasing for durability, reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling; and regenerate natural systems.

The Action Plan has 7 key objectives, namely:

  1. Ensure that the City has in place appropriate policies to support green procurement, including associated administrative tools
  2. Maximise the City’s sourcing and purchasing of sustainable products
  3. Maximise the City’s sourcing and purchasing of sustainable services
  4. Increase the number of green/sustainable buildings built by the City, with a long term aim of a complete transition to green/sustainable building
  5. Incorporate green procurement into the City’s large capital projects
  6. Communicate effectively with the public, City contractors and City staff regarding green procurement
  7. Monitor and evaluate the City’s performance in terms of green procurement

The Action Plan furthermore has 20 outcomes and 47 actions or activities, aimed at achieving the above objectives. Some of the important actions/activities, outlined in the Green Procurement Action Plan, that the City intends on prioritising in the short-medium term, include:

  • Undertake demand plan analysis to determine priority areas for intervention;
  • Develop process flow for RFQs and Tenders, indicating options for integration of green procurement and environmental legal compliance into the processes;
  • Undertake a prioritisation process and feasibility analysis to determine priority goods purchasing groups;
  • Undertake a prioritisation process and feasibility analysis to determine priority materials groups;
  • Investigate the feasibility of developing guidelines and specifications for each utility/transport related materials group within the City’s stock items;
  • Undertake a prioritisation process to determine priority directorates and/or departments;
  • Develop a set of guidelines and specifications for prioritised directorates and/or departments;
  • Develop sustainable building guidelines, based on the equivalent of a minimum of GBCSA 4 star standards and aligned with the City’s commitment for ‘carbon neutral new buildings by 2030’ and carbon neutrality city-wide by 2050;
  • Develop a set of sustainable design principles for various types of capital/infrastructure projects;
  • Develop sets of guidelines, stemming from sustainable design principles for large capital projects;
  • Develop a set of specifications for the use of recycled building materials in City capital projects;
  • Develop a series of case studies of successful green procurement projects/tenders.

The City has substantial buying power due to its large consumption of goods and services. This can be leveraged to stimulate local economic development and at the same time drive the green economy, promote environmental sustainability and resource efficiency. In particular, outcomes and activities outlined in the Green Procurement Action Plan, aimed at stimulating local economic development and supporting green job creation, can be leveraged to support the City’s economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and hence to ‘Build Back Better’.

View the City of Cape Town’s Green Procurement Action Plan here.


Photo: Dan Grinwis - Unsplash

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