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Sandra Karner
Inter-University Research Center for Technology, Work and Culture (IFZ)
Department of Modern Biotechnology
Schloegelgasse 28010 Graz
Tel.: +43 316 8139 0943
Fax: +43 316 8126 6111

ÖkoKauf Wien (EcoBuy Vienna), Austria

Logo Vienna

  • Country: Austria
  • Foodlinks theme: Public sector food procurement
  • Year started: 1999

Targets & measures

Paper bag instead of plastic bag: Thanks to its sustainable procurement system, the City of Vienna has managed to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30'000 tons per year. Picture: ÖkoKauf Vienna
Oekokauf Wien - paper bag

The Vienna City Council made it mandatory for all departments of the Vienna City Administration to take ecological factors into account for public procurement and contracting; thus ‘ÖkoKauf Wien’ developed a specific set of criteria that are regularly evaluated and updated. However, in reality there are no sanctions if the requirements are not fulfilled.

While the focus was originally on ecological aspects, there are now growing efforts to include additional aspects of sustainability, including fair trade, health, regionalism and seasonality. Market research was conducted before each standard was introduced in order to ensure that the City was ready for these changes. For example, there was a feasibility study on maximizing the use of organic food by the Vienna Hospital Association.

‘Naturally Good Plate’ initiative
Recently a new initiative has been introduced, the ‘Natürlich Gut Teller’ (literal Translation: ‘naturally good plate’), for meals that meet mandatory criteria for organic, seasonal fruit and vegetables, and less meat (if any is included, production needs to meet high animal welfare standards and fish needs to be from sustainable sources). In addition, six further criteria are recommended: a minimum of 2/3 vegetarian products, 1/3 regional ingredients, one product certified as ‘fair trade’, no packaging of meals and innovative recipes that are freshly cooked. In Vienna’s nursing homes the introduction of these meals has been very successful and, at present, these meals are offered 4 to 5 times each week.

The City of Vienna supplies food for approximately 85 000 people in hospitals, schools, kindergartens and nursing homes for the elderly. As early as 1986, organic food had already been introduced by the Vienna Hospital Association and today, the supply of organic food is 38 percent for hospitals (with a target of 50% to be reached in the next two years). In kindergartens and for 90 schools offering after-school care (30 000 children per day), the percentage of overall spending has already reached more than 50 percent  (even 91 percent for dairy products), while the supply of organic food for elderly people is currently 18 percent.

Interaction and knowledge brokering activities

‘ÖkoKauf Wien’ represents a network of actors from local authorities, NGOs, municipal administrations and companies. Approximately 180 people work in thematic working groups, managed by the Project Director and a Steering Group; external experts are included as the need arises. The overall coordination is with the Department of Environmental Protection of the Municipality. Public procurement practitioners from all parts of the administration are involved in these working groups and they actively contribute to the elaboration of criteria, which is considered one of the main success factors: this bottom-up approach has led to widespread acceptance.

In addition to the guidelines for public procurement, ‘ÖkoKauf Wien’ is very active in awareness-raising of sustainability issues for tourism and private consumption. Several brochures and flyers have been produced, and a ‘ÖkoBusinessPlan Wien’ (‘EcoBusinessPlan Vienna’) has been elaborated for Viennese companies.


In 1999, the City of Vienna launched the project ‘ÖkoKauf Wien’ (‘EcoBuy Vienna’) as part of the Vienna Climate Protection Program, ‘KliP Wien’. The project aims to make a key contribution to reaching the City’s climate protection goals by using public procurement. The City of Vienna spends approximately 5 billion Euros on goods, products and services per annum and its market power was considered a substantial force for greening consumption. By taking these actions, the City of Vienna aims to be a role model for citizens and the private sector and to influence production methods; for example, the City’s demand for a specific eco-quality paper resulted in the paper industry switching to eco production.


The project has saved about 17 million euros and 30'000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. This assessment demonstrates that the procurement of environmentally friendly products does not need to cost more. The City of Vienna dedicates 300'000 euros per year to the further development of the program, for feasibility studies etc.

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