Public procurement standards can incorporate bans on single-use plastic items, as well as targets and incentives for reusables and plastic-free alternatives, enabling procurement teams to incorporate a sustainable product line in city-funded projects. TARGET USERS: Government KEY CONSIDERATIONS: Citizens are worried about plastic and want cities to take action and lead by example.

Background and Objective

People are concerned about plastics. 87% of European citizens say they are worried about the impact everyday products made of plastics have on the environment. 74% say they are worried about the impact everyday products made of plastics have on their health. Cities have the power to change the trend of plastic consumption and the set a positive example for their communities. Source: A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy

Actions and Implementation

There are a range of policy measures available to governments to support the transition from single-use plastics to reusables, and public procurement is viewed as an optimal way for governments to lead the transition using taxpayer dollars for environmentally preferable purchasing policies. Public procurement standards should be reviewed to incorporate bans on single-use items, as well as targets and incentives for reusables, enabling procurement teams to incorporate reusable products for suitable venues. New policies, including the EU Plastic Directive, will require cities to not only incorporate new standards into their public procurement policies, but to also ensure the policies are implemented city-wide.

Outcomes and Impacts

CASE STUDY EXAMPLES Oslo As Norway’s second largest public sector purchaser, the City of Oslo, will change their consumption behavior and reduce the unnecessary use of plastic in municipal bodies by supporting products that contribute to a circular economy, products that are designed for recycling and encourage reuse. The City of Oslo has mapped all purchases of plastic products across the municipality, with particular attention on single-use plastics, to fully grasp the scale of use of plastic products in the municipality. By mapping plastic consumption, the City was able to identify which products were problematic and which agencies they needed to target. For example, because cotton swabs made of plastic are among the top two waste items found at beaches in Oslo, the city took out plastic cotton swabs from the assortment of the procurement agreement for medical supplies, and replaced it with cotton swabs made of paper. The City of Oslo also has an ambition to phase out all use of unnecessary, single-use plastic articles in the canteens. The pilot project was successful and based on the results, the City outlined a guidance document for plastic smart eateries with simple and effective measures that can be applied to all canteens in the municipal bodies. Hamburg In 2016, the City of Hamburg introduced rules that ban municipal use of items including plastic coffee capsules, single-use bottles and utensils, and introduced reusable cups to several public institutions, including cafeterias of public administration and the police academy. The move stopped the use of up to 675,000 single-use cups each year.


ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS Public awareness campaigns that engage and educate local communities on plastic waste can spur community action and affect consumer choices. Visit to learn more.

Award Scheme



Waste Management

Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

New Urban Agenda Commitments