Public purchasers can buy green by basing their purchasing decisions and allocation of contracts not only on the price but also on the environmental, quality and health criteria of products.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
In 1994, Denmark announced its policy of environmentally-conscious public procurement. Denmark's annual state procurement amounts to about DKK 20,000 million. The counties' and local authorities' annual procurement amounts to DKK 5,000 million and 16,000 million, respectively. Public procurements for which tenders are invited in the whole of the EEC/EU amount to about DKK 3,000 billion annually. Due to the considerable magnitude of its total public procurement, the Danish government believes that the implementation of its policy will have a significant "demonstration" effect on companies and citizens within Denmark and in its supplier countries both within and outside the EU. It has highlighted eight specific target areas of procurement: (a) terminal tables, computer hardware, photocopiers and other types of office furniture and equipment; (b) local computer systems and electronic products; (c) painting of buildings and ships; (d) cleaning agents; (e) canteen cutlery and crockery; (f) passenger cars; (g) working garments and transport materials; (h) lighting. Products that have received the EEC/EU environmental mark (ecolabel) can be used immediately within the framework of an environmentally conscious policy for public procurement, and the EEC/EU energy mark will guide procurement of energy-consuming products.