Green purchasing policy adoption in Mexican municipalities

Mexico City at dusk

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

Government purchasing accounts for 27.9% of Mexico’s gross domestic product. Examples of purchases include vehicle fleets, construction materials, chemicals, electronics, and office materials. These purchases collectively contribute to global climate change and a host of other environmental concerns when manufactured and while in use.

Some Mexican municipalities have implemented green purchasing policies to address the environmental impacts associated with government purchasing. 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, thus enhancing cost savings.

Beginning in 2014, the Mexican government encouraged green purchasing and endorsed initiatives that promote public policies encouraging green purchasing. Despite this endorsement, Mexico has not seen widespread sustainable purchasing use.

Researchers at Tecnológico de Monterrey, EGADE Business School partnered with Arizona State University’s Sustainable Purchasing Research Initiative to conduct a national survey to learn more about local governments’ green purchasing activity across Mexico. 

The survey generated 461 responses from municipal officials located in 347 municipalities. The findings show that 51% of municipalities have a green purchasing policy, 31% have no policy, and 18% of responding municipalities did not know if their municipality had such a policy. Five factors appear to encourage Mexican municipalities to adopt green purchasing policies.

1. Complementary policies and practices 

Complementary policies and practices are existing organizational initiatives that support green purchasing. Having these supportive policies and practices can help facilitate implementation and often reduce costs because they have a foundation established to build their green purchasing policies. Complementary policies and practices also enhance management commitment and create a shared vision around similar issues.

The survey results indicate that 64% of directors in municipalities with green purchasing policies also have a municipal-wide sustainability policy, 77% of directors reported also have green building policies, and 56% have an energy conservation policy. In general, municipalities with complementary policies are more likely to report adopting green purchasing policies. 

2. Purchasing Criteria 

Purchasing criteria are the factors a municipality considers when deciding to procure a good or service. Across all product/service categories, municipalities with green purchasing policies report that environmental criteria have greater importance than municipalities that lack these criteria. For example, about 88% of municipalities with a green purchasing policy recognized that the environmental concerns of chemical products are important, compared with 70% of municipalities without a green purchasing policy.

3. Information access

Access to helpful information can influence purchasing decisions. More than half of municipalities with green purchasing policies have green product/service list (68%), minority business lists (59%), information on environmental impacts of products (72%), small business list (77%), and product ecolabels /certification (65 percent). By contrast, between 31% and 48% of municipalities with no green purchasing policy report having access to these informational resources.

4. Leadership, employees, and resources

Leadership, employees, and resources are critical elements in the adoption of organizational policies. Municipalities with a green purchasing policy report that top management (86%), employee attitudes (83%), and financial resources (77%) facilitate their ability to implement green purchasing policies. While about two-thirds of municipalities without a green purchase policy also think that such options facilitate the adoption of green purchasing. While financial resources are also relevant, top-level management, awards/recognition programs, educational programs, and voluntary programs matter more. 

5. Vendor roles

Vendor roles refer to the municipality’s supplier relationships. About 81% of municipalities with green purchasing policies indicate that their vendors offer environmentally friendly products/services, compared to 70% agreement in municipalities without these policies. Similarly, nearly three-quarters (74%) of municipalities with green purchasing policies indicate that vendors help them learn about environmentally sustainable purchasing options compared with 58% in municipalities without green purchasing policies. Vendor collaborations appear to facilitate the municipalities’ adoption of sustainable purchasing policies and likely have bearing on their ultimate success. 

These five factors differentiate the local Mexican governments that have a sustainable purchasing policy from those that don’t. They may be used to encourage other local governments to adopt sustainable purchasing policies. Doing so would help more Mexican municipalities move toward a more sustainable economy. 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.