3. Choose your product group

For a circular procurement process, physical products (or their maintenance) are the point of departure. Determine which product groups are suitable for realising your circular ambitions.

3.1 Opt for influence in the chain

A consideration when choosing a product group is the degree of influence you, as the client, can have over the producer and in the chain:

  • When a supplier is also a producer, you can have a direct influence on various aspects, including the design or return of a product. For example, with office chairs.
  • When a supplier itself is only a seller, direct influence on the producer is lower. This makes it more difficult to reach agreements on closing the chain. This is the case, for example, with leasing companies and wholesalers.
  • When a chain has various different links, there are several parties between client and supplier. Closing this chain as an individual client is very difficult. This is the case with ICT hardware, for example.

3.2 Low contract value, high impact

Are you working on your first circular procurement project? Then start with a call for tender with a relatively low contract value and a relatively high impact. How do you measure that? To get an idea, you can plot the expenditure of different purchases against their potential impact on sustainability. This creates a figure like the one below.

The suitability of a procurement process for your organisation also depends on the expenditure (expressed as a contract value) and the potential impact (expressed, for example, as a qualitative indication). To start with, choose a project at the bottom right of the matrix (low contract value, high impact). By doing this, you run less risk that ambitions will be adjusted downwards after this first project, from internal risk limitation as a result of high expenditure. More experienced organisations can then move up to the top right of the matrix. For manufacturing companies, this often involves the primary process.

3.3 Choose a mature market

A decisive factor when choosing a product group and formulating circular ambitions is the maturity of the market when it comes to circularity. If you opt for a more mature market, you are more likely to realise your circular ambitions. Some ways to tell how mature a market is, are:

  • The number of market parties engaged in circularity
  • The number of procurement processes tendered with a circular ambition

Office furniture is a good example of a relatively mature market, in which almost all major parties work with circularity. In catering and hot and cold beverage vending, many suppliers are also taking steps. Despite positive developments in the construction industry, the industry as a whole still seems relatively immature. This is because many regular construction projects are still being undertaken with circularity taking on only a minimal role.

Points for action

  • Determine in advance whether a product group is suitable for circular procurement – only physical products are suitable.
  • Choose a product that you can buy directly from the producer.
  • Start with a product group that does not carry too much risk.
  • Choose a market that is relatively mature when it comes to circularity.

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