Socially Responsible Procurement Framework

The background

As a large public contracting authority, ProRail wants to give a bigger impetus to climate-neutral and circular procurement. We were asked to translate the principles behind their strategy into a procurement framework and create a Menu with various criteria for selecting and awarding project partners. In three sessions working together with a group of stakeholders from ProRail, we established this procurement framework, which includes a number of guiding principles as a starting point for the procurement process.


An increasing number of public organizations want to get started with socially responsible or circular procurement. The strategy Towards Climate Neutral and Circular Government Infrastructure Projects sets out the targets for Rijkswaterstaat and ProRail. With about 4,300 FTEs and an annual procurement spend of around €300-400 million on infrastructure, ProRail is a relatively large client that can use its procurement power to take other parties along in the transition to a climate-neutral and circular economy.

The question

Support us in establishing a framework for Socially Responsible Procurement, with a focus on climate and the circular economy. With the framework as a basis, develop a Menu with requirements and criteria that will inspire buyers to get started with this approach.

Current situation and future

ProRail is already working on climate and the circular economy in various parts of the organization, so it is important that they clearly embed the Socially Responsible Procurement Framework in the regular procurement policy and the sustainability policy, for example. The framework had to provide direction for the future, but it also needed to be in line with the existing situation enough to allow stakeholders to go along with it.

The process

We organized three work sessions to shape the framework together. In the first session, we mapped out the organization’s frameworks; in the second, we discussed the concept framework and further developed the guiding principles; and in the third, we discussed the last content-related points.

The results

ProRail now has a Socially Responsible Procurement Framework, which provides guiding principles for the organization to incorporate climate-neutral and circular principles in its procurement and tendering processes. We developed guiding principles for the tendering process and for selecting and awarding parties. We also elaborated these principles in a number of concrete examples in a Menu. It is now clear to those involved what this approach requires from the organization itself.

“Copper8 has helped us enormously in bringing our vision, desires and experience together in one manageable document. The Copper8 team asks the right questions, gets everything on paper (wonderful!) and brings their own experiences; that’s how they completed an important job in a short timeframe!” Charlotte Pars Sustainable procurement advisor

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