Call for govt to commit to sustainable procurement

2:26 pm on 6 August 2017

The head of Environmental Choice, the government's own eco-labelling brand, is calling for it to adopt a programme of sustainable procurement for public bodies.

A stamp from Environmental Choice means a company can substantiate claims it makes to being sustainable, says the organisation.

Environmental Choice uses a stamp to show a company can substantiate claims it makes to being sustainable. Photo: 123RF

General manager of the not-for-profit trust Francesca Lipscombe said demand for sustainable credentials on products in New Zealand was driven by business rather than government.

She said that was a shame, and she hoped it would change including for what the government bought.

"Unfortunately New Zealand is one of the few countries in that mix where there's not a sustainable public procurement programme in place."

In 2015, New Zealand signed up to the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is around sustainable production and consumption.

Getting there was an easy fix, she said.

"We have a solution here: it's a government-owned label, it would be great to see some policies around sustainable public procurement here."

Mrs Lipscombe said she was in regular contact with the ministry about a public procurement programme and believed the government would face more pressure to introduce this type of programme.

She said all the recent research suggested consumers would prefer to buy products that were less harmful to the environment, if given the choice.

"We've got to the point now where certainly environmental choice licensed products are no more expensive than the non-licensed brands on the shelf, so I think it's an easy choice for a consumer to make."

Environmental Choice is owned by the Ministry for the Environment and was set up to label products and services that have met certain best-practice environmental criteria.

Products include commercial cleaning items, building materials and toiletries.

Mrs Lipscombe said it was part of a global eco-labelling network that had members from about 57 countries around the world.