When implementing SPP in specific procurement categories, it is important to understand what factors should be monitored to measure the impact of the contract across the three sustainability pillars.
The use of recycled materials in ICT equipment can contribute to lower its environmental impact. Some of the variables that can be considered are:
One variable that should be considered when procuring ICT equipment is the total % of recycled content.
Ecolabels, such as TCO, measure, specifically, the use of post-consumer recycled plastic (plastic derived from used consumer products, such as bottles, or recycled IT products). It is calculated that plastic represents around 21% of the material content in IT equipment, thus, encouraging the use of a minimum % of plastic derived from used consumer products (post-consumer recycled plastic) can have a positive impact on the environment.
Recycled content in packaging materials should also be monitored. This can include for example ensuring that paper-based packaging is 100% recycled, and complies with the standards set by ecolabels such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Another variable that can be considered when procuring ICT equipment, particularly printing equipment, is whether 100% recycled paper can be used in the printer. Another variable that can also be used to measure the sustainability of printing equipment can be whether double sided-printing is an integral capability of the equipment and set as default.
Energy efficiency is the main variable that will determine the environmental impact of an ICT product during its use life. To measure energy efficiency, Typical Energy Consumption (ETEC) per year should be captured (calculated in kWh). Compliance with Energy Star can be set as technical specification to ensure better energy efficiency, this indicates that the product uses less energy than at least 75% of available products in the market.
The use of hazardous substances in ICT equipment can be dangerous for those handling the materials throughout the life-cycle of the product, from manufacturing to waste management. Information can be required from the supplier regarding the efforts to reduce or eliminate the use of these substances.
Repairability, upgradeability and recyclability
Sustainable practices in the ICT sector aim to promote circularity and prolong the use life of existing equipment in order to minimize the environmental impact associated with the manufacturing of new equipment. Repairing, upgrading and recycling existing equipment is one of the main ways to achieve this goal. To measure the repairability, upgradeability and recyclability of ICT equipment, the following variables can be considered:
Most ICT sustainability standards determine that spare parts should be available for a minimum period of 4 years after end of production.
If the manufacturer, brand, or reseller, offers a repair service as part of the contract is another variable that can help to ensure repairability of ICT equipment. It should also be captured whether the expenses associated with this service will be incurred by the public authority or the supplier, and whether this will be for the whole use life of the equipment, which is usually a minimum of 3-4 years. Generally, if repair costs are carried by the supplier, it can be an incentive to design a product that is easier to repair and recycle.
To promote the repairability of ICT equipment, sellers should include a Service Manual with instructions on how to repair the equipment. The TCO Ecolabel includes standards of what information should be included on these manuals. If ICT equipment is designed in a way that facilitates the replaceability of its components, it will not only help to extend use life, but it will also increase the equipment’s recyclability.
Data security information is a variable that should be captured to ensure that privacy and security have been built into the procured ICT hardware. Page 15 of HP’s sustainable IT purchasing guide provides guidance on data security information that procurers can require of potential vendors and the technology purchased.
In order to promote the circularity of ICT equipment, it is important to collect information regarding the services the supplier offers at the end of the use life of the equipment. For example, this can be clearly captured whether the supplier can provide a take-back, re-use or recycling service, and whether this service is also available for individual components, such as batteries.
Supply chain information
One of the key issues within the ICT sector is the lack of transparency regarding the supply chain, which is often associated with occupational health and safety violations, and labour rights vulnerabilities. Requesting and capturing the following information from the supplier is an important step towards to promote social sustainability in the ICT sector:
One of the variables that can be captured from a supplier, is whether there is publicly available information regarding the supply chain. This would ideally include all the different companies involved, from mining, to refineries, component producers, manufacturers, etc. This information can be required of the equipment that is the subject matter of the contract.
Suppliers should monitor labor rights through a publicly accessible Code of Conduct or Supplier Policy.
The supplier should also provide information on how this Code of Conduct is transmitted to supply chain (translations, questionnaires, training, etc.), how it is monitored (frequency, identification of countries or suppliers with higher risk, etc.), corrective actions taken, and any collaboration with third parties to monitor compliance with Code of Conduct.
- Procura +. 2020. Socially responsible public procurement of ICT equipment in Sweden
- Responsible Business Alliance. 2019. Practical guide to transparency in procurement
The Region Stockholm is one of the European leaders in implementing social criteria for ICT procurement. This resource provides guidance on how this criteria should be introduced and monitored throughout the procurement process.
The RBA has created a framework with a set of Corporate Responsibility Indicators (CSR) that aims to harmonize and simplify the process of supply chain assessment.
Introducing general sustainability criteria in the procurement process: