Reducing packaging through procurement criteria

Cursa de La Mercè
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For over 40 years, La Mercè Race (Cursa de La Mercè) has been held each September as part of Barcelona’s La Mercè festivities. The 10 km race, organised by the City of Barcelona, is a highlight among hundreds of free events celebrating the city and Catalan culture.

Before the race, each runner receives a special race t-shirt they can wear on the day to show that they are participating. The race organiser, Barcelona Sports Institute (IBE), wanted to reduce the waste this generated. In previous years, the t-shirts were individually wrapped in plastic and cardboard. 

In 2018, the IBE published a Call for Tenders to procure t-shirts for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 editions of the race in line with sustainable criteria. In addition to the "lowest bidder permissible", the following award criteria were developed to select the most economically advantageous offer:

  • transport (vehicles with lowest impact on environment)
  • waste (packaging)
  • use of green fibres
  • design
  • length of production period.
Main results

As a result of the green contract,

  • the new race t-shirts are certified by MADE IN GREEN OEKO TEX
  • the t-shirts are now delivered using ECO vehicles, resulting in fewer CO2 emissions and reducing air pollution in the city
  • 75% less packaging is used now that t-shirts are delivered in reusable crates reclaimed by the company once t-shirts have been added to the runner packs prepared for the race
  • the winning supplier has also completely eliminated single-use plastic bags: in 2019 alone, this did away with the need for 13 000 plastic bags.

This contract proves that the market is ready and able to meet a range of environmental solutions.