4 February 2005
BRUSSELS — From now on, Belgium’s 80,000 federal civil servants will only be allowed to order organic foodstuffs and other supplies that meet new ethical purchasing guidelines.
The initiative comes from public affairs minister Christian Dupont, environment minister Bruno Tobback and Els Van Weert, federal state secretary for sustainable development.
Essentially, federal agencies will have to buy only products that are both biodegradable and produced according to ‘equitable work conditions.’
Broadly speaking, this means that the products were not made under conditions in which workers’ rights were exploited, and with the least negative impact on the environment.
All Belgian federal government are obliged to respect the new ethical and ecological criteria mentioned on the guide of sustainable purchases, as listed on the website, wwww.guidedeschatsdurable.be.
The guidelines cover a wide range of products including all office supplies, batteries, paper and cardboard products and packaging, as well as foodstuffs such as organic coffee and soft drinks.
“In taking this measure, the federal government not only wants to set a good example, but also conduct the economic development in a sustainable and socially responsible way,” Van Weert said.
And what about the costs? As La Derniere Heure newspaper points out, one knows that organic products are more expensive than non-organic ones for individual consumers.
But federal authorities note that the costs will be reduced to the agencies as a whole by purchasing in bulk.
In any case, the memo that has been circulated specifies that costs should not rise as a result of the switch.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news