Waste management association LIPOR is leading the way for procurement of sustainable cleaning services in Portugal. The entity is responsible for management, recovery and treatment of solid waste produced by eight municipalities in the Greater Porto area. LIPOR was founded in 1982 and treats around 500,000 tonnes of municipal waste produced annually by a population of approximately 1 million people. In 2007, after the Council of Ministers set out priority products in the National Strategy for Green Public Procurement, LIPOR was motivated to include sustainability in its public procurement process. In 2009, a sustainability criteria was introduced to procurement procedures thanks to independent efforts by the organisation’s procurement division.
According to the European Commission’s GPP In Practice May newsletter, LIPOR carried out a restricted procedure by pre-qualification to contract for cleaning services in 2014 in order to optimise costs and increase the efficiency of the previous service. In order to inform tenderers of LIPOR’s objectives and assess their response capacity, meetings were held to determine suppliers’ ability to fulfil a sustainability criteria. LIPOR expressed the benefits and implications of its sustainable public procurement policy, and developed a monitoring plan to assess contract execution. The organisation also decided how it would work with suppliers that did not initially respond to requirements.
The sustainability criteria used in the procurement process included environmental requirements such as disclosing a list of relevant contracts and declaration by the respective contracting authorities of good execution, or a copy of the executed contracts highlighting the candidate’s experience. Suppliers must also provide evidence of employee training on correct use of cleaning products in terms of dosage and handling, as well as evidence of a certification.
Some candidates were also given technical specifications, including requirements that detergents do not contain substances identified of being of ‘high concern’ and included on the European Commission’s REACH Regulation list. LIPOR also set maximum limits on phosphorus for certain cleaning products, a ban on sprays containing propellant gasses, exclusion of products tested on animals, and other restrictions. The organisation also required cleaning staff to use reusable microfiber cloths wherever possible.
The most economically advantageous tender was awarded the contract based on a points system, 60 percent of which were based on price and 40 percent based on the technical merit of the bid. Overall, LIPOR said that thanks to the process used, they were able to find the best solution on the market at the best price. Of the 12 suppliers that took part in the pre-qualification, the majority failed to supply required information about previous work experience or who would be carrying out the service and so were excluded from the bid. LIPOR included these requirements to reduce the occurrence of illegal work and unfair treatment of workers. The contract was the first in which LIPOR used such criteria, so was awarded for shorter than the average duration of two years. It is worth €150,000, below the EU public procurement threshold.
The environmental impacts of specific chemicals were taken into account when writing up the criteria, so in theory the criteria should reduce environmental damage. As this is the first time LIPOR has employed this process, there is no information on how the new process has impacted the marketplace.
However, LIPOR has reflected some of the lessons learned from the process. They consider it crucial to establish a dialogue with suppliers from the very start in order to know how suppliers will respond to demanding and complex procedures. LIPOR believes it is critical to establish a team focused on goals that can be reached through a particular supply or service market and to define sustainability criteria. The organisation says that its approach was an improvement on previous procurement approaches and will extend it to other services. LIPOR said its two biggest obstacles were researching and identifying sustainability criteria as well as legal framework.