Circular procurement as a lever for the transition to circular economy

20 October 2020 - Published by Eric Boessenkool
ProCirc partner Circular Flanders. is a public-private co-creative, cross sectoral network of networks, including government, local authorities, business, trade unions, civil society and research. It serves as as hub, laboratory and catalyst for the transition to a circular economy. Circular Flanders main areas of action today are circular procurement, cities and ports, circular business and value chains with high impact such as construction, plastics and textiles.

In this article Veerle Labeeuw and Melody Van den Acker will tell more about the different Flemish, Belgian and international circular procurement initiatives that function as a lever for the transition to a circular economy in Flanders and the North Sea Region.

Green Deal on Circular Procurement

Inspired by our Dutch colleagues, Circular Flanders launched a Flemish Green Deal on Circular Procurement in 2017 with VVSG, The Shift and Bond Beter Leefmilieu (Union for better living environment). They were overwhelmed by the interest: 150 participants signed for active engagement in this Green Deal. Over the next two years, they learned together and saw the market for circular solutions grow. This culminated in a festive Buyer meets Supplier and closing event in Brussels in November 2019.

Learnings from the Green Deal

Within ProCirc Circular Flanders wants to share their learnings from this Green Deal as well as learn from their ProCirc partners.  The lessons learned and case studies form the Green Deal on Circular Procurement can be found on www.circularprocurement.be. It also includes a white paper with their tips for those of you who want to start a community of practice on circular procurement. The circular ambition map is one of the more hands-on results of this learning network. It is used as a basis to determine the circular ambitions of an organisation with different stakeholders, but is also a means to communicate with suppliers.

Circular Construction, Wallonia and Brussels

Within the Green Deal on Circular Procurement, the massive interest for circular construction justified launching a new Green Deal. The Flemish Green Deal on Circular Construction is currently in execution and has over 330 members. Circular Flanders colleague’s in Wallonia started a Green Deal Achats Circulaire at the end of 2019 and the Brussels Capital Region continuously invests in promoting circular procurement. Joined with these partners and the Flemish and Federal government, Circular Flanders makes a strong force for promoting circular procurement in Belgium.

Birth of ProCirc

It was time to look beyond borders, to continue to learn and exchange. Not only for Circular Flanders, but also to connect their local buyers and suppliers with other European frontrunners.

Together with Rijkswaterstaat Circular Flanders felt the need to combine forces on a European level. That is when they started to look for a quadruple (civil, science, economy, governmental) partnership in the North Sea Region. Some regions like Flanders, had inspiring experiments in circular procurement but to really upscale these principles a joined effort was needed. With ProCirc we have realized this idea to coordinate different approaches, stimulate the circular market and thus realize a true circular transition in Europe. Almost two years into the project, Circular Flanders has felt the benefits of exchanging with their ProCirc partners and joining forces to create value for procurers within the entire North Sea Region as well as having the leverage to address key issues with policy makers.

Flemish pilots & CoP’s

In Flanders there are currently seven pilots: Het Facilitair Bedrijf (the Facility company), De Potterij (the Pottery), bpost, Stad Leuven (the City of Leuven), Zonnige Kempen (Sunny Kempen). And of course our ProCirc partner Kamp C’s pilot ’t Centrum (The Centre) who recently won a ProCura+ award for their innovative procurement. Circular Flanders looks forward to learning from and with them.

Peer-to-peer network

Participants felt that one of the most valued outcomes of the Green Deal on Circular Procurement was the peer-to-peer network. This motivated us to continue down this path. Within ProCirc we are launching Flemish sector specific Communities of Practice (CoP’s) on construction, textile, ICT, office furniture & supplies, catering, packaging and perhaps medical supplies. A great added value will be that the participants of these CoP’s can now also exchange internationally with other ProCirc CoP’s, partners and pilots. One of the many benefits of being part of an Interreg project.

Photo by Despina Galani on Unsplash