Circular public procurement: a framework for cities

Leveraging public purchasing power to enable the transition towards a circular economy


The circular economy is a systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. It is based on three principles, driven by design: eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials at their highest value, and regenerate nature.

Circular public procurement is the process by which the public sector purchases products and services according to the three principles of the circular economy. It is a powerful tool that city governments can use to shape the transition towards a circular economy. With public procurement accounting for 15-20% of global GDP and sub-national governments being responsible for almost 50% of procurement decisions, city governments have an important role in shaping local circular economies.

Circular economy principles and criteria can be applied to purchase various products and services such as buildings, furniture, food, and packaging among others. By focusing on the desired outcomes and benefits, rather than the products needed, city governments can leverage their purchasing power to build thriving, liveable, and resilient cities. For example, instead of procuring vehicle fleets, city governments can procure access to more sustainable mobility solutions that reduce congestion and air pollution. Through circular procurement, city governments can reconsider what they buy and how they buy to achieve the best desired outcomes.

City governments around the world can commit to adopting a circular approach to public procurement. To connect with other cities that share this ambition, join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s community of cities and local governments.

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