Minimum Environmental Criteria (MEC): what are they?

Minimum Environmental Criteria (MEC) are the environmental requirements defined for the various stages of the purchasing process- They are aimed at identifying the best design solution, product or service from the environmental point of view along the life cycle, taking into account market availability.

The Minimum Environmental Criteria (MEC) are defined within the framework of what has been established by the Plan for the Environmental Sustainability of Consumption in the Public Administration Sector and are adopted by Decree of the Minister.

Their application makes it possible to spread environmentally preferable technologies and products on the market. In addition, they produce a leverage effect by inducing less virtuous economic operators to invest in innovation and best practices to meet the demands of the public administration regarding sustainable procurement.

The Minimum Environmental Criteria (MEC) in Italy

In Italy, the effectiveness of the Minimum Environmental Criteria (MEC) has been ensured thanks to the provisions contained in the Contracts Code. In fact, Article 57 paragraph 2 of Legislative Decree No. 36 of March 31, 2023, provides for the obligation to apply, for the entire value of the tender amount, the “technical specifications” and “contractual clauses,” contained in the Minimum Environmental Criteria (MEC).

This obligation causes national policy with respect to green public procurement to be incisive not only in the goal of reducing environmental impacts, but in the goal of promoting more sustainable, “circular” models of production and consumption. This also leads to an increase in the number of people employed in the various sectors of the most sustainable supply chains.

In addition to the enhancement of environmental quality and compliance with social criteria, the application of the Minimum Environmental Criteria also responds to the need of the public administration to rationalize its consumption, optimizing spending in the medium to long term.

In March 2023, the directorial decree establishing the planning of activities aimed at defining the minimum environmental criteria prior to the adoption of the relevant ministerial decrees was signed for the year 2023.

How are the criteria identified?

Minimum Environmental Criteria (MEC) are identified by starting with a market analysis of the sector concerned and drawing on a wide range of requirements. These include those proposed by the European Commission in the European GPP Toolkit or those in place related to official eco-labels.

They are also drawn for their definition from regulations that impose certain environmental standards, as well as from indications that come from stakeholders, both from businesses and trade associations, consumers and users, and the public administration itself.

The definition of the criteria is one of the tasks assigned to the GPP Management Committee. For their elaboration, it makes use of Technical Working Groups, representatives and experts from the Public Administration and central purchasing bodies, research organizations, universities, as well as the representatives of trade associations of economic operators in the relevant sector.

The Minimum Environmental Criteria (MEC) thus drafted are then shared in the Management Committee. Then they are sent, as an annex to the Decree of the Minister of the Environment of the Protection of Land and Sea, to the Ministers of Economic Development and the Economy of Finance to acquire any comments.

Finally, the final document is finally adopted by Decree of the Minister of the Environment and published in the Official Gazette.

Do you want to find out more information on circular economy and its themes? Visit Tondo‚Äôs blog!

Emma Salioni

WIth a degree in Digital content management for media, enterprises and cultural heritage, Emma Salioni has always had a strong interest in sustainability and circularity. After a period of time spent workin in The Netherlands, she started working with Tondo managing social media and communication, as well as supporting the organization of hackathons and events.