Located on the coast in southern Spain, Rincón de la Victoria is a municipality in the province of Malaga in the autonomous community of Andalusia, with 50.000 inhabitants. It is a modern town boasting excellent beaches and tourist facilities, such as caves and the Mediterranean Archaeological Park, frequented by numerous families, many of whom own a second residence here. It is the municipality with the highest well-being in the province of Malaga, according to the Synthetic Indicator of Economic Welfare, developed by Andalusian Analysts.
The Rincón de la Victoria 2030 Strategic Plan defines the objectives and lines of action to be followed in order to make the town a Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive municipality. The tendering procedure for the maintenance of public spaces contributes to some of the objectives of the sustainability strand of the strategic plan, such as protecting and increasing the cultural and historical heritage, promoting it as a tourist attraction, rehabilitating public spaces, and enhancing the natural heritage. It also contributes to some of the objectives of the inclusion strand, such as increasing citizens’ participation in municipal life, enhancing and improving service provision, fostering migrant integration, and creating a sense of belonging of families and young people.
With this procedure, the Municipality of Rincón de la Victoria sought to purchase from a third party a conservation and maintenance service for public green spaces in the municipal district. These services were previously performed by a public municipal enterprise, which at present lacks sufficient human resources, and has insufficient vehicles and machinery to carry out the service with the desired level of quality. This procedure includes social and environmental aspects in both award criteria and contract performance conditions.
The justification for this choice is that environmental conditions are central to the execution of a contract related to the natural environment. In addition, given that the provision of this service heavily relies on labour, the contracting authority has considered appropriate to reinforce the employment and wage stability of the potential contractor by including social conditions. This was expected to result in benefit for the employees assigned to the contract and can contribute to a modification of the existing negative patterns in the market towards more positive ones.
The Municipality has been including social and environmental criteria in its tendering procedures for more than a decade. This is particularly relevant for contracts that are labour intensive, like this one. Spanish Law 9/2017 on Public Sector Contracts obliges contracting authorities to include at least one criterion (social, environmental or innovation) in the conditions for performance of contracts.
Tenders were evaluated on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender: 49 points were given to the quality criterion and 51 to the cost criterion. Quality is articulated in the following sub-criteria:
Environmental measures (5 points): bidders had to submit a document explaining how they would address the following aspects:
- Vehicles and machinery: technological improvements and innovations aimed at reducing environmental impact, use of alternative fuels, reduction of noise and pollutant emissions (2 points)
- Materials and chemical products to be used in the execution of the contract: taking into account their contribution to sustainability, longer useful life, less need for conservation, manufacturing process respectful of the environment, etc. (1 point)
- Processes: design of contractual processes in accordance with environmental criteria (minimisation of fuel and electricity consumption, greenhouse effect and optimisation of resources of all types) (1 point)
- Impact: minimisation of the impact of the service on the environment and urban landscape (up to 1 point).
Social measures (4 points): bidders had to submit a document explaining how they would address the following aspects:
- Planning of training programmes for staff assigned to the service (1 point)
- Collaboration and work plan with Special Employment Centres, whose focus is to provide workers with disabilities with remunerative employment and to facilitate their access to the labour market (1 point)
- Prevention, occupational health and safety measures to be applied (0.5 points)
- Measures to reconcile work and family life (0.5 points) • Measures for equality between men and women (0.5 points)
- Integration of persons with disabilities, disadvantaged people, or members of vulnerable groups (0.5 points)
Service-specifc project (40 points): bidders had to submit a proposal detailing the specificities of the service with reference to the following aspects:
- Organisation of the service (8 points)
- Plan detailing the works (14 points)
- Human resources (8 points)
- Vehicles, machinery, and tools (5 points)
- Fixed installations and infrastructure (5 points).
Contract performance clauses:
During the execution of the contract, the contractor will have to prove that it has implemented the social and environmental measures to which it committed itself in its bid. These checks happen at least once a year during the meetings of the Monitoring Committee. Failure to comply with these special conditions of execution shall result in the imposition of penalties. Penalties shall be proportional to the seriousness of the non-performance and may not exceed 10% of the contract price, VAT excluded, nor may they exceed 50% of the contract price. Another condition refers to the obligation on the contractor to strictly comply with payments to subcontractors, and to submit to the contracting authority, upon request, a detailed list of the subcontractors involved in the contract, the specific reasons for subcontracting, and proof of compliance of payments to subcontractors.
The contract was awarded in March 2021 for five years, with a total value of 6.994.368,95€. Fifteen economic operators participated in this bid, and no one was excluded from the procedure. All tenderers fulfilled the technical criteria and offered environmental and social measures, albeit with different ratings. The contracting authority assessed the technical offers in relation to the quality criteria, on the basis of the following aspects: clarity of exposition, coherence and accuracy of proposals, actions and calculations, level of detail, substantiation and justification of arguments, interest and suitability of proposals in relation to the best execution of the service.
The successful bidder was a temporary joint venture between Ingeniería y Diseños Técnicos and SAU-Ituval, S.L, which got 41,10 out of 49 points in the quality criteria. Concerning environmental criteria, they received 4,60 out of 5 points: In addition to the use of electrical vehicles and machinery, the winning tenderer suggested the adoption of eco-friendly practices such as: using biological fertilisers, using recycled paper, adopting a water saving plan, reducing packaging, using alternative products to herbicides, promoting autochthonous species of trees, and adopting a service’s environmental inspection plan.
To fulfil social criteria, the bidder proposed: a) to collaborate with the special employment service Servilimpsa (which works with deaf people), the Estrella del Alba Cultural Association (which works with women victims of violence) and the Social Welfare Department; b) to increase the percentage of women employed by the company; c) some measures for the reconciliation between work and family life; d) the organisation of consultation and active participation of workers to foster prevention, occupational health and safety.
In response to the contract performance clauses on environmental issues, the bidder proposed that part of the fleet should be electric, especially those used in the centre of the municipality, and that the rest of the vehicles should be EURO 6 and Eco. It was also proposed that organic fertilisers should be used in preference to chemical fertilisers, and that organic phytosanitary treatments should be used. In the social area, continuous training for workers was offered.
According to the JRC technical report on EU GPP criteria for public space maintenance, the key environmental impacts related to gardening, machinery and vehicles during the extraction, fabrication and use phases are climate change, ozone depletion, air and soil pollution, water and resources depletion, and noise.
To address these environmental impacts, the use of electrical vehicles and machinery has been adopted in this contract (despite other environmental costs) as well as using low rolling resistance tyres, the use of state-of-the-art fuel, training in efficient driving, monitoring of fuel consumption, and waste management. The contract has produced the following social impacts. Five unemployed people were hired for the execution of the contract, one of them has disabilities. Four people were hired directly by the contractor, another person by a subcontractor.
The contractor also employed a woman who is an Industrial Technical Engineer. One employee has benefited from paternity leave and was given total freedom to adapt the leave time to his needs. He has been replaced by another person on a temporary basis. In relation to health and safety at work, the entire workforce has been given a comprehensive training, and a suggestion box to organise workers’ consultation is going to be set up. In a monitoring meeting, the contractor proposed to the municipality to renovate a plant nursery, where some people with mental health problems work, thanks to a local association. This is something that was not proposed in the technical offer and that the municipality is currently assessing.
The contract is monitored by a municipal inspector under the responsibility of the contract manager, an industrial engineer.
A monitoring committee was set up to ensure the follow up of the contract: from the city hall, a legal expert, an industrial engineer, and an environmental expert participate, together with two representatives from the company.
This committee is usually convened by the mayor or by the person responsible for the environmental department, and it meets at least once a year. Extraordinary meetings can be convened whenever necessary. Issues such as the use of electric vehicles, different systems for the reduction of water consumption, and the impact of COVID on service provision, are discussed. The contracting authority shares the following lessons illustrated in the infographic above.