Green procurement purchasing strategies have shown time and again that cost savings, pollution prevention, environmental benefits, and human health improvements can coexist harmoniously. Environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) takes into account a life cycle evaluation and includes purchasing of goods and services with reduced human health and environmental impacts that are less than baseline product category impacts. “This comparison shall take into consideration, to the extent feasible, raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, disposal, energy efficiency, product performance, durability, safety, the needs of the purchaser, and cost." By considering environmental impacts in public purchasing, local governments can limit unnecessary depletion of resources, energy, and hazards and risks as part of municipal operations, protect public health, reduce costs and liabilities, and potentially improve the environmental quality in the region.
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Policy
Adopt and Implement an EPP Procurement Policy
An EPP policy can help to minimize environmental impacts while reducing toxicity, conserving natural resources, materials, and energy, and maximizing recyclability and recycled content. EPP procurement practices also create healthier places to live and work. The Institute for Local Government Climate Action Network offers a sample Climate Friendly Purchasing Policy and provides links to sample EPP policies adopted by cities and counties throughout California.
Create an Interdepartmental Team
Create an interdepartmental team to 1) promote policy implementation, 2) track policy adherence, and 3) evaluate and prioritize key product categories and specifications to be included in the agency’s climate-friendly purchasing program to have significant impact reductions.
Use the State of California EPP Best Practices Manual
The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Best Practices Manual can assist local government purchasing officials with practicing environmentally preferable purchasing. The EPP Best Practices Manual provides guidance on purchasing decisions related to batteries, building maintenance, grounds maintenance, medical supplies, office machines, office supplies, outdoor furnishings, paper products, printing, and vehicles/transportation. The manual will help you:
- Write environmental specifications into your bid solicitations
- Tap into websites and other resources related to EPP
- Choose more environmentally preferable products and services in over 40 product categories
- Become educated on the environmental impacts associated with the manufacture and purchase of numerous products and services
- Identify ways you can reduce waste in your office, shop, or facility
- Locate surplus and reuse programs to obtain low-cost or used equipments and supplies
Reuse Surplus Furniture and Equipment
By reusing surplus office equipment, local governments can avoid the need to purchase new materials. In some cases, refurbishing office furniture can be less expensive than purchasing new supplies.
Identify and Use Products that are Certified or Comply with Environmentally Preferable Product Standards and Criteria
- Energy Efficiency
By purchasing copiers, fax machines, computers, scanners, exit signs, heating and cooling products, air hand dryers for restrooms, windows and other equipment with the ENERGY STAR® label, local governments save money while reducing energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.
- High Post-consumer Recycled Content
Various studies highlight the life-cycle energy savings associated with making products from recycled content materials versus virgin materials. This occurs because extracting or harvesting raw materials from the earth is energy intensive. To close the "cradle-to-cradle" loop, purchase products made from post-consumer recycled content.
- Water Efficient Products
It takes considerable energy to pump and treat water so by using less, we save energy and reduce GHG emissions.
- Manufactured from Green Business
Facilities with an Environmental Management System that defines quantifiable impact reductions over time have taken an important step toward green manufacturing.
- Energy Efficiency
Find an Existing Contract or Issue a New Contract to Purchase the Desired Product
Any local governmental entity in the State of California that is empowered to expend public funds may utilize designated State contracts, per Public Contract Code Section 10298, et.seq.
Education and Outreach
Initiate an Internal Education Program and Educate Residents and Small Businesses
Educate purchasing officials within your organization and with local residents about environmentally preferable products and climate friendly procurement opportunities. Local governments can also work with the business community to educate them about climate friendly procurement opportunities. Many, if not most environmental preferable products are climate friendly because energy is one of the criterion considered in defining an environmentally preferable product.
- Alameda County StopWaste.org offers fact sheets on purchasing specific environmentally preferable products. They offer a model policy and implementation guidance.
- Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) EPP Program provides recommendations on what local governments and state agencies can do to purchase environmentally preferable products.
- Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool This on-line feature can help your city identify and buy desktop and laptop computers and monitors that have fewer toxics, save energy, last longer & are easier to recycle!
- Green Seal Offers recommendations to green government purchasing decisions.
- Institute for Local Government California Climate Action Network: Offers a Best Practices Framework, which provides suggestions for local actions in ten climate leadership action areas. Climate-friendly purchasing is one climate leadership opportunity area. Also offers links to federal and state agencies.
- US EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Website Provides introductory information, hands-on tools, publications and guidance to find and evaluate green products and services.