The application of environmental requirements in procurement of road maintenance in Sweden

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: The Swedish Road Administration (SRA) is responsible for maintenance of the state-run roads in Sweden. The SRA also has an overarching responsibility for the state of the environment in the road transport sector. The overall aim of this thesis is to examine the implementation of environmental requirements in SRA road maintenance contracts and to develop an improved model for the implementation of environmental requirements, making it easier for the SRA to establish an optimal contracting strategy for routine road maintenance. Using several qualitative methodologies, the thesis is mainly based on a content analysis of 18 tender documents, two case studies consisting of five cases and a questionnaire. The study shows that the SRA have stipulated environmental requirements in procurements of routine road maintenance since 1997. The formulation of the environmental requirements was initially carried out at the Regional Road Management Directorates. However, in the case of trucks and construction vehicles relevant organisations were given the opportunity to actively participate in the development of environmental requirements. The contractors in the study fulfil about three-quarters of the environmental requirements in the contracts. The main reasons for not complying with the environmental requirements are: i) absence of consultation with municipalities and competent authorities, and ii) inadequate communication of environmental requirements to subcontractors. The benefit to the environment of laying down environmental requirements for road maintenance is difficult to assess, due to unclear environmental requirements and the fact that the SRA does not systematically follow up the environmental requirements. The findings of the research indicate that the SRA have made a serious effort to integrate environmental aspects in their maintenance contracts through the use of environmental requirements. However, the SRA need to adopt a more systematic approach towards road maintenance contracts in order to make green procurement an effective tool for environmental adaptation of road maintenance. The thesis proposes an improved process for development, implementation and follow-up of environmental requirements. The proposed process can be summarised in five criteria that need to be fulfilled in order to achieve an environmentally efficient application of environmental requirements: i) the environmental requirements have to be based on legislation, environmental quality objectives, identified environmental problems and/or research, ii) environmental indicators and baselines have to be established in order to facilitate follow-up of compliance with the requirements, iii) the environmental requirements have to be stated clearly in order to limit misinterpretations and to facilitate follow-up, iv) the contractors have to develop working processes, routines and training based on the environmental requirements, v) routines for following-up compliance with the requirements and the environmental effectiveness need to be developed, and there has to be a feedback of the results. Furthermore, the purchasing function needs to be integrated with the implementation of the contracts. Although, having faced several problems during the introduction of environmental requirements, the SRA have managed to meet the main arguments that are used for justification of green procurement. However, if slightly changed, the process of green procurement has the potential of becoming an important tool in the work for enhancing the environmental performance of the SRA.