EPA calls for urgent focus on green public procurement by Government Departments

Date released: March 28, 2023

  • Government Department reporting on 2021 procurement shows that there was a low level of inclusion of green criteria in contracts over €25,000.
  • This low level of implementation is a missed opportunity for Government Departments to purchase more resource efficient and less polluting goods, services and works within the marketplace.
  • The EPA calls on all Government Departments to place an urgent focus on green public procurement implementation.

28 March 2023: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published its second report on Green Public Procurement (GPP) activity in Government Departments. GPP is a process where public authorities seek to source goods, services or works that have a reduced environmental impact throughout their life-cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured.

The report, which is for 2021 and relates to procurement by 18 Government Departments, shows that - of the reported spend of over €528 million on contracts over €25,000 signed in 2021 - only 10 per cent included green criteria. 

Launching the report Laura Burke, EPA Director General, said:

“It is disappointing that there has been a low level of implementation of Green Public Procurement in Government Departments in 2021, even lower than that reported in 2020.

This is a missed opportunity for Government Departments to purchase more resource efficient and less polluting goods, services and works. The public sector must play a leadership role. Green Public Procurement sends a powerful signal to the marketplace that Ireland’s government sector is committed to reducing emissions and protecting our environment while saving money over the full lifecycle of goods and services.”

The EPA calls on Government Departments to place an urgent focus on Green Public Procurement. The report sets out five key recommendations: 

  1. to assign senior level resources with responsibility to ensure GPP is incorporated into procurement processes, 
  2. to update the Corporate Procurement Plan to include GPP, 
  3. to ensure relevant staff receive GPP training and are aware of the available guidance and resources, 
  4. to ensure there are tracking systems to monitor and report on GPP and 
  5. to ensure that GPP data is published in Government Department Annual Reports.

The EPA has supported GPP implementation through the provision of national guidance and green criteria for priority sectors, training for public sector procurers, monitoring & reporting on GPP implementation in Government Departments and inputs to the Office of Government Procurement’s online GPP Search Tool. A National GPP Strategy and Action Plan led by Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is currently under development and plans to set targets for GPP implementation, and roles and responsibilities regarding GPP training, guidance, monitoring and reporting. 

The report ‘Green Public Procurement: Monitoring and Reporting by Government Departments, 2021 Reference Year’ is now available on the EPA website.

Further information: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or media@epa.ie

Notes to Editor

The Climate Action Plan 2019 assigned lead responsibility to the EPA for measuring and reporting GPP implementation by Government Departments on an annual basis, starting with reference year 2020. 

All 18 Government Departments provided returns for 2021 reference year, which requested data on GPP implementation at contract level, where the contract value was greater than €25,000 and the contract was signed in calendar year 2021. A summary of the data reported to the EPA is tabulated below. Note the reporting is by Government Departments and does not include procurement for agencies affiliated to those Departments.

Department No. of contracts over €25,000 incorporating GPP Percentage of total spend over €25,000 in 2021 incorporating GPP
Agricuture, Food & the Marine 100 8%
Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth 1 4%
Defence 4 Note 1
Education 2 9%
Enterprise, Trade & Employment 1 14%
Environment, Climate & Communications


Finance 2 66%
Foreign Affairs 3 2%
Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science 1 27%
Health 4 17%
Housing, Local Government & Heritage 3 21%
Justice 4 Note 2
Public Expenditure & Reform 0 0%
Rural & Community Development 4 97%
Social Protection 9 10%
The Taoiseach 0 0%
Tourism, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media Note 3 Note 3
Transport 4 100%

Note 1: No fixed price as based on usage, based on demand throughout the year

Note 2: Value not specified

Note 3: Nil return, no contracts over €25,000 signed in 2021 reported

The figures returned to the EPA are not sufficiently complete to draw concrete conclusions about the use of green criteria in Government procurement and these limitations are identified in the report. However, there is no doubt that there is a low level of implementation of Green Public Procurement across Government that needs to be urgently addressed.