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Circular procurement lessons to be included in Estonian strategies

Estonia has developed three strategic documents, incorporating expertise from SEI Tallinn and the CircPro project, to advance circular procurement principles in the country.

Anette Parksepp, Evelin Piirsalu / Published on 8 May 2023
A photo of a laptop with a document open on the screen and a plant in the background on the table.

The White Paper on Circular Economy in Estonia. Photo: Anette Parksepp / SEI.

Estonia has been actively focusing on the integration of circular procurement principles into its policy frameworks. This has led to the development of three strategic documents: the White Paper on Circular Economy, National Waste Plan and Strategic Principles of Public Procurement. SEI Tallinn has played a significant role in the development of these documents by utilizing the knowledge gained through collaboration with CircPro project partners. Consequently, SEI Tallinn and the CircPro project have jointly influenced policy change regarding circular procurement in Estonia.

In 2022, the Estonian Ministry of the Environment introduced the White Paper on the Circular Economy, which features a dedicated chapter on circular procurement. This chapter emphasizes the importance of circular procurement as a tool for better resource management. By fostering a closed circle of energy and materials in supply chains, green public procurements, including circular procurements, help minimize or even prevent negative environmental impacts and waste generation through materials’ lifecycle. Furthermore, green procurements contribute to reduced carbon emissions, decreased resource exploitation, accelerated transition to sustainable energy production, and private sector innovation by promoting sustainable products, services and environmental technologies. The White Paper underscores that public authorities must lead by example and pave the way towards sustainability.

The new National Waste Management Plan 2022-2028, currently in the process of adoption, also addresses green and circular procurement in a separate chapter. This strategic document highlights green public procurement as an effective tool for achieving policy goals relating to the circular economy, climate change, resource use, and sustainable consumption and production. Given that the public sector accounts for approximately 14% of the EU’s GDP in terms of expenditure on products and services, this is a critical consideration. The chapter refers to the online Estonian regional guidelines on circular procurement, prepared by SEI Tallinn within the CircPro project, further emphasizing the project’s role in promoting sustainable procurements in Estonia’s waste management strategy.

Estonia is also developing the Strategic Principles of Public Procurement Document, which outlines key values to consider in public purchasing. The first chapter of the document, dedicated to sustainability, benefits from the input of SEI Tallinn’s Senior Expert Harri Moora, based on knowledge derived from the CircPro project. Once completed, the document will also feature a chapter on circular procurements, further integrating the concept into Estonia’s procurement policies.

In conclusion, the CircPro project has been instrumental in shaping policy instruments that support circular procurement in Estonia. By integrating circular procurement principles into these strategic documents, Estonia demonstrates a commitment to sustainable development and paves the way for further progress in this area.

Featured from SEI

Evelin Piirsalu

Senior Expert (Green and Circular Economic Transformations Unit)

SEI Tallinn

Harri Moora

Head of Unit, Senior Expert (Green and Circular Economic Transformations Unit)

SEI Tallinn

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