Circular procurement

The purchasing of circular solutions requires a different approach than 'traditional' procurement. In circular procurement, the emphasis is more on requesting a solution than on requesting specific products.

Circular procurement: from product to solution

The starting point for a circular procurement process is determining how you want to meet a particular need. This objective is the question asked of various service providers - how can our objective be achieved?

In a traditional procurement process you would start by describing the product or service you need.

In circular procurement, you invite suppliers in an early stage to think along how a certain need can be fulfilled - to bring them in the process you get a better idea of the possibilities.


What is circular procurement?

Circular procurement means that the facilities purchased to enable the company to function optimally are also used for circular applications. This is achieved by using different purchasing criteria than in a 'traditional' procurement process.

By looking at the needs of the users, it is determined how and what should be purchased. In circular procurement, the most important questions you have to ask yourself are therefore: "Can I use it again?" and "Once it becomes waste to me, for whom will it become a raw material?

Instead of the purchase value, in circular procurement the emphasis is therefore much more on the residual value of a solution.

“Once it becomes waste to me, for whom will it become a raw material?”

The lease price is not determined by the purchase value. The price you pay is the purchase value minus the expected residual value. This is the way in which you should look at your circular procurement processes.

“Circular procurement focuses more on the goal: why are we buying this solution?”

Why is circular procurement important?

In order to come up with circular solutions, you have to look at procurement and contracts in a different way.

Let's illustrate this with an example of purchasing paper coffee cups. Normally speaking, this is not in any way connected to the purchase of toilet paper. Used coffee cups can however be used as raw material for the production of toilet paper. By linking the contracts, you can therefore add circularity to the organisation.

Traditional procurement processes, however, mainly focus on the functionality of a product. If you want to achieve your sustainability goals with circular solutions, you therefore have to look for a product or service that is able to contribute to this. Circular procurement therefore focuses more on the goal: why are we buying this solution?

As circularity focuses on preserving the value of raw materials, parts and products, it is also important to ask yourself how you are going to use the product and what you are going to do with it once it is no longer being used.

Blanco Black Satino Infographic Kartonnen bekers EN

What do you have to take into account?

If you are looking for circular solutions through a circular procurement process, you want to find suppliers who can best achieve your sustainability ambitions. To do this, you need to think about the residual value of a product or service in the tender.

By asking the right questions, you can determine whether the products and services will retain their value at the end of their period of use and will be able to be reused. Please include the following points in your tender:

The most important thing to take into account during the procurement process is why you are buying something. What expectations do you have of a product? If you continue to consider this, you may well purchase entirely different products or services.

In addition, involve multiple stakeholders from the organisation in the various phases of the procurement process. They may have a different perspective when it comes to the right solution. These different points of view may provide you with different insights. It will also stop you from obsessing over a specific solution.

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How will the products be re-used?

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Can the products be disassembled? Can I reuse the parts?

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Which product groups can be linked? What is related to the product or service I am purchasing (see the example of the coffee cups and toilet paper).

Case study

From coffee cup to toiletpaper

De Volksbank, EcoSmart, CWS & Initial and WEPA have successfully realized a local recycling loop together. These four partners tell their story about making a meaningful contribution to the circular economy and to a sustainable future.