Sustainable IT Procurement

The background

The national Central Information Technology unit of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat) wants to do more with sustainable procurement. The ecological and social footprint of the ICT sector is, after all, enormous, so there is plenty of room for improvement. But how can we drive that improvement in the sector through procurement? And how do we ensure that including sustainable criteria in tenders becomes standard practice? Out of these questions came the desire to make a Guide to Sustainable Procurement Information Services.


Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) has strong ambitions when it comes to sustainability: RWS wants to work in a way that’s both energy neutral and circular by 2030. Making RWS’s procurement more sustainable is an important way to achieve these ambitions. The national Central Information Technology unit (CIV) has therefore asked us to develop a Guide to Sustainable Procurement Information Services, which can be used in future tenders.

The question

Support us in making a Guide to Sustainable Procurement Information Services, in which our entire organization is encouraged to include sustainable ambitions optimally in tenders.

Current situation and future

The Guide to Sustainable Procurement Information Services must connect optimally with Rijkswaterstaat’s existing work processes, in particular the CIV. ‘Sustainable Procurement’ covers all the themes of Rijkswaterstaat’s Ambitieweb (Ambition Web): Energy, Circular, (Living) Environment, Welfare and Health, Social Aspects and Labor Aspects in the value chain. Various procurement tools are provided, depending on the level of ambition, including requirements, criteria and contract provisions.

The process

We started by clearly defining the procurement packages (for example, Hardware and Software) and the main product groups within each package (for example, Laptops, Telephones, Data Centers). For each procurement package and product group, the sustainability themes that are relevant to translate into procurement tools were determined, based on the Ambitieweb. Our partner Metabolic carried out a quantitative impact analysis for a number of product groups. We developed procurement tools based on the Ambitieweb and the impact analysis, and these should lead to the offer becoming more sustainable. The procurement tools have been tested with a number of market parties and refined on the basis of this input.

The results

This process led to the Guide to Sustainable Procurement Information Services. The analysis reveals that Hardware in particular has a significant footprint, and that the strategy of extending the lifespan of products can deliver a lot of potential environmental gains. Concrete procurement tools show how the market can be set in motion.

Sustainability is high on the agenda at Rijkswaterstaat: the sustainable living environment is the foundation of our organization. In order to give substance to our sustainability ambitions and make an impact, we needed a practical manual that sets out concrete guidelines for procurement consultants and other project members. The more unambiguous our message is to the market, the better the market can anticipate our request. Working with Metabolic, Copper8 has ensured that we can ask the right critical questions to the market. Thanks to the Guide, we have gained insight into the potential for improvement, and we have concrete procurement tools focused on our services. What Copper8 has delivered is a product that can be used by any IT client. Erik van Meurs Procurement Advisor

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