Circular purchasing of polyethylene pipes

Test case for more circularity in future procurement files

Polyethylene pipes are used by network operators for the construction of gas and water networks.

Eandis (now Fluvius) wants to purchase and transport these PE pipes for several utility companies at the same time. By bundling purchases and including circular principles in the specifications, we want to examine whether we can move our suppliers more in the direction of circularity.

Specifically, with this pilot project, we want the awarded suppliers to make a maximum effort to recycle surplus PE pipes and PE fittings, expired PE pipes and possibly excavated PE pipes and fittings, preferably through their own production process. To this end, we are going to include sustainability as an award criterion in our purchase dossiers. The tenderers' offer must include a plan of approach for sustainability, which counts for 20 out of 100 points.

This dossier can also serve as an example dossier for other purchasing dossiers for all participating clients. The ultimate goal is to create a framework to introduce circularity in all possible purchases.


  1. The size of this procurement file can have a significant impact on the entire supplier market. The entire chain is pushed in the direction of a more circular economy: from raw material to production, transport, installation by contractors, etc.
  2. Given the ultimate goal of having this case file serve as an example file for other procurement files, many more parties from other markets will be encouraged to become more circular in the future.
  3. This dossier can generate extra employment. The recovery and recycling of materials can create extra jobs at processing companies, transporters and producers.
  4. In the future, this example dossier will also generate extra investments. For example, clients will be willing to pay an extra price for the returns in exchange for a reduction in CO2 emissions.


  1. This purchase dossier is large in size and complexity. The practical implementation within all parties involved and getting everyone on the same page are the biggest challenges. It is also the first circular procurement dossier within public procurement legislation. The fact that it is a federal dossier does not make it any easier.
  2. We came up against a number of obstacles in the area of safety and technology. For instance, in the production of PE pipes, for pressurised applications, only 'virgin' material is currently permitted. This limits the scope of application of recovery materials.
  3. The recovery of PE without other 'polluting' material such as PVC is not easy, certainly not if done on a large scale. It requires the necessary follow-up and sorting, i.e. a great deal of commitment and a circular mindset from many of the parties involved.
20% award criteria for sustainability


In de toekomst zou het interessant zijn om te onderzoeken in welke mate het toepassingsgebied van recuperatiemateriaal bij de opdrachtgevers zelf kan uitbreiden. Recuperatiemateriaal is niet toegelaten voor de productie van PE-buizen, maar mogelijks wel voor toebehoren, zoals PE-hulpstukken en PE-kranen. Dit vraagt verder onderzoek en aanpassing van de technische specificaties, iets waarbij vak- en beroepsorganisaties moeten worden betrokken.

Verder willen we ook onderzoeken hoe we de ideeën van de circulaire economie uit deze case ook kunnen toepassen in toekomstige dossiers. Het uiteindelijke doel is een raamwerk creëren om circulair aankopen in te voeren voor alle mogelijke artikels, rekening houdend met de wetten op overheidsopdrachten.