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Sustainability of ICT hardware procurement in Switzerland – A status-quo analysis of the public procurement sector

by   Tobias Welz, et al.

Sustainable procurement requires organizations to align their purchasing behavior with regard to broader goals linked to resource efficiency, climate change, social responsibility and other sustainability criteria. The level of sustainability in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) hardware procurement is analyzed for two reasons: First, ICT hardware belongs to the six key product groups in sustainable procurement. Second, ICT in general is expected to be an important enabler for low-carbon economies, providing solutions to reduce Green-House Gas (GHG) emissions. While the advantages of sustainable procurement are obvious, certain barriers hinder the adoption in day-to-day procurement. This case study on ICT hardware discusses the three important barriers "lack of clear definitions per product group", "missing market intelligence about sustainable products" and "inflexible procedures and attitudes as barriers for innovative approaches" based on an in-depth analysis of sustainable procurement of ICT hardware by the public sector in Switzerland. To this end, tender data published on the national procurement platform is screened for sustainability criteria using the Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV) nomenclature to identify relevant ICT projects. The results reveal to which extent such criteria as well as their determinants are currently included in public tenders. Using two different approaches, only a small number of tenders were found containing sustainability criteria of a wide range from basic to comprehensive. The overall performance of Swiss public procurement is benchmarked by comparing the identified sustainability criteria with available criteria from international key actors in sustainable procurement. Thus, this analysis provides novel insights on how public agencies today take sustainability into account when procuring ICT hardware.


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