Dusseldorf is moving towards sustainable procurement with recycled office paper

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City of Dusseldorf - Mark Lindert

Düsseldorf's city administration consumes about 40 million sheets of office paper annually. On the other hand, the city collects about 36,000 tonnes of used paper and cardboard per year, which is then sold off to recycling companies.

With the primary aim of stimulating demand and ensuring a price reduction for recycled paper, Dusseldorf developed an internal regulation for sustainable procurement, which led to an increase of the use of recycled office paper accounting for 85% of all the city’s paper use in 2016.

The city found a solution thanks to a German factory that develops recycled office papers with a guaranteed high technical quality and a good brightness. Their paper is very similar to ‘fresh fibre’ paper, allowing the city to roll out only recycled paper in its offices. The solution is certified by the standards defined by the independent ‘RAL Deutsches Institut für Gütesicherung und Kennzeichnung e.V.’ (German Institute for Quality Assurance and Labeling) and its German ‘blue environmental angel’ label.

Another challenge the city encountered was making sustainable, or circular, procurement manageable in the complicated procedures of public procurement.

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The procurement of recycled paper in Dusseldorf's municipal administration jumped from under 27% in 2014 to  85% in 2016. In industrial production, the use of recycled paper corresponded a savings of up to 60% in energy and 70% in water; while for the city the use of recycled paper meant a reduction in its environmental footprint by about 6.3 million litres of water and 1.3 million kWh of energy annually.

In 2016, Dusseldorf participated in the ‘Pro recycling paper initiative’ competition and thanks to its achievements Dusseldorf was awarded the ‘best climber of the year’ award.

Promoting sustainable and circular procurement for private households, schools and SMEs can broaden the demand for circular products and develop these products as a market standard for a reasonable price.