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Tendering in the Circular Economy A tool that traces circular ambitions to set up suitable assessment criteria for tendering processes in the Dutch built environment



Last Updated: 3-2019


Over the past few years, the circular economy is receiving increasing attention worldwide both in
politics, academy and business as a way to decline the current consumption waste stream of products
and (raw)materials. The shift from a linear ’take-make-waste’ model to a circular system, involving
closed loops, manifests itself to a growing degree in the construction sector. However, implementing
circular aspects in the tendering process of such a construction project appears to be new grounds for
clients (contracting authorities). Unambiguity in the definition of the concept of circular economy
regards constructions, unfamiliarity in the various possibilities of circularity and difficulty in
formulating own ambitions are underlies by this. In addition, the associated circular tendering process
is so complex and unfamiliar for contracting authorities that they often completely miss the mark
when it comes to translating their ambitions into right requests. In practice, it turns out that
contracting authorities often have difficulties in setting up suitable assessment criteria derived from
their individual specific ambitions.
This research reports on classifying the assessment criteria for circular tendering processes in the
Dutch construction sector derived from three types of studies and develops a tool for tracing
contracting authorities circular ambitions before translating them into suitable selection and award
criteria. Together, the three studies are conducted in line with the grounded theory by analyzing,
coding, comparing and validating the collected data. Utilizing the results from a literature review and
theoretical study leads to the formulation of three categories for both selection and award criteria. By
means of an in-depth practical study and interviews further interpretation was given to these
categories and the category set-up was validated. The data collection result indicates that there is a
gap in circular tendering aspects between theory and practice. A tool is derived from the classification
of both assessment criteria providing a method to profile the contracting authority’s drivers and
ambitions before translating them into suitable assessment criteria. A tailored list of selection and
award criteria are offered in accordance with the specific outcomes of the contracting authority’s
outlined profile. The reliability of the tool is validated by means of a case study regarding a circular
construction project which tender documents were recently published.

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