Adapt the tender procedure

Adapt the selection and award framework, and include circular criteria

To embed circular economy principles into public procurement, the public procurement officers may have to adapt existing procurement procedures and processes. Adopting a more circular approach to procurement activities may require a shift across your organization and municipality. Public procurement officers will ensure that the tender documents include the required circular and innovative elements and are supported by administrative tools. Developing template documents for various types of procurement processes can support the implementation of circular projects.

By simplifying and making procurement documents more accessible, you can encourage more businesses to submit a bid. While your city government can brief potential bidders about their circular economy expectations for the tender, the requirements and criteria can be further explained in public procurement documents. To encourage more startups and SMEs to respond to tenders, your city government can divide tenders into smaller lots, where appropriate to increase their chances of winning a contract.

Public procurement officers balance competing priorities when evaluating bids. Public procurement officers need to consider whether circular evaluation criteria can be weighted so that the winning bid is scored against your municipality’s desired social, environmental, health, and economic outcomes. These may include social impact, waste reduction, or job creation. Public procurement officers can develop a circular selection and award framework which considers the requirements and criteria that will lead to the best offer and outcomes, reduce negative externalities, and support your circular economy ambitions.

Questions to consider:

  • On the public procurement solicitation procedure + Which public procurement solicitation type (e.g. Request For Quotation, Request For Proposal, Request For Information, Request For Tender) will best support circular outcomes? + Can you make the public procurement documents more accessible to potential suppliers? What barriers exist for SMEs to submit bids? + Can you divide the tender into lots (several, smaller tenders) to encourage more small businesses to respond to the tender? + Is there flexibility to clarify submissions or request additional documentation?

  • On the selection and award framework + How can you incorporate the desired circular outcomes in the selection and award framework? + What minimum requirements do suppliers need to fulfil in order to meet your functional needs and circular economy expectations? + What factors will determine: - The best supplier? - The best offer? - What other factors (most economically advantageous tender, social inclusion, local procurement, etc.) would you also need to take into consideration? + What factors will determine the most circular offer? How will you assess the bids taking into account costs, functionality, and circular outcomes?


  • The Circular Procurement learning module by the Urban Agenda for the EU provides a step-by-step guide on how to prepare the tendering procedure.

  • The book Circular Procurement in 8 steps provides practical steps to integrate circular economy principles into a procurement process. Step five of the book explains how to run a circular tender procedure.

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