Four recommendations to advance green purchasing in Mexican municipalities

Colorful lighted sculpture in Mexico

By: Elizabeth Bruns, Nicole Darnall, Kylie Flynn, Angela Fox

Government purchasing in Mexico accounts for 27.9% of its gross domestic product. Examples of purchases include vehicle fleets, construction materials, chemicals, electronics, and office materials. Collectively, these items contribute to global climate change and a host of other environmental concerns during manufacturing and while in use. In response, local Mexican municipalities are implementing green purchasing policies to reduce the environmental impacts of these purchases.

A sustainable purchasing policy formalizes an organization's commitment to reduce the environmental harms related to purchasing. These policies can also improve municipalities' internal efficiencies and enhance cost savings. Mexico has several local and federal initiatives that promote public policies encouraging green purchasing. Despite these endorsements, less progress has been made at the municipal level.

To address this concern, researchers at Tecnológico de Monterrey, EGADE Business School, partnered with Arizona State University's Sustainable Purchasing Research Initiative to conduct a national survey of 461 managers of Mexico municipalities. The survey results identify four key factors that facilitate the successful implementation of municipalities' sustainable purchasing policies.

1. Use information about environmentally preferred products

Access to product ecolabels/certifications, green product lists, and online databases of environmentally friendly products and services increases green purchasing policy implementation success. Even for simple decisions, information is critical to the decision-making process. While directors in municipalities with green purchasing policies experience some success with their green purchasing activities, only two-thirds of these municipalities report that they have access to environmental information to aid in implementing these policies.

2. Develop green purchasing criteria

Gaining access to green product information is only the first step. Municipalities must know what to do with it, otherwise it’s easy for purchasing officers to make purchasing decisions based on typical information such as price and availability. Establishing well-defined decision-making criteria for commonly used products is critical. These strategies should incorporate specifics about how environmental criteria should be considered in purchasing. Green purchasing criteria also help managers use information to compare products and fuel green purchasing success.

3. Track spending related to green purchases

Organizations manage what they measure. Municipalities that track their green purchases are more likely to elevate the importance of green purchasing in organizational routines and practices. By tracking spending related to green purchases, municipalities can reduce costs related to energy, water, fuel, and other expenses. Whatever the approach, monitoring green purchases creates opportunities for municipalities to develop goals and targets around green purchasing and appropriately recognize departments and employees who meet or exceed (or fail to meet) green purchasing expectations. Ideally, the tracking of green purchases should be integrated into an e-procurement system to assess green product attributes throughout the procurement process.

4. Train municipal employees on green purchase policies.

Ideally, green purchasing implemented through public policy provides four things: Information, motivation, ability to act, and the correct legal framework. There is a clear need to train purchasers on the importance of green purchasing and best practices. This training should include different purchasing options, existing incentives, administrative procedures, and encouragement for participation in programs that promote green purchasing.

Mexican municipalities that adopt green purchasing policies are poised to address their environmental impacts and save on costs. The four actions described above can help Mexican municipalities advance their green purchasing efforts by learning from their peers. To learn more, read the full report findings found at

Author notes:
Elizabeth Bruns is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Sustainability at at Arizona State University’s (ASU’s). She is exploring interests in urban farming and economic development. She plans to pursue an MS in Sustainability Leadership after her graduation in December 2020.

Nicole Darnall is Associate Dean at ASU’s College of Global Futures and Associate Director and Professor at ASU’s School of Sustainability. She is Co-founder of ASU’s Sustainable Purchasing Research Initiative.

Kylie Flynn is completing her Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability at ASU with minors in Digital Culture and Parks and Protected Area Management. She is a Communications Intern for ASU’s Sustainable Purchasing Research Initiative.

Angela Fox is completing her Master of Arts in Sustainability at ASU. She is interested in sustainability behaviors around social change.

Leal, A. R., D. Pérez Castillo, B.W. Husted, E. Amorós, J. Ivy, Y. Chen, N. Darnall, J.M. Stritch, S. Bretschneider. 2019. Advancing Green Purchasing in Mexican Municipalities. Tecnológico de Monterrey, EGADE Business School and Arizona State University, Sustainable Purchasing Research Initiative.