Sustainable Procurement Resources

Sustainable procurement is a purchasing and investment process that considers the economic, environmental and social impacts of one’s spending. Many governmental organizations and agencies have sustainable procurement guidelines to ensure they support supply chains that produce safe and sustainably made products and materials. The guidelines also send a signal to the marketplace to encourage other potential vendors to do so as well.

Many States in the US also have specific Sustainable Procurement Programs. Contact us for information about your State’s Program.


US EPA Sustainable Materials Management Program 2017-2022

The growth of global raw material use rose to twice the rate of population growth in the 20th century. Sustainable procurement practices and materials management can restore a health relationship between economic growth and environmental and societal prosperity. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Sustainable Materials Management Program (SMM Program) emphasizes using materials in the most productive way possible, which at times means using less, and reducing toxic chemicals and environmental impacts throughout a material’s life cycle.

The priorities of the US EPA’s SMM Program are: (1) built environment, dealing mainly with construction and demolition materials (2) sustainable food management (3) sustainable packaging. Under each focus area, there are goals, anticipated outcomes, and examples of possible activities that will drive goals forward.

Anticipated outcomes for sustainable packaging are identified as follows:

  • Increased per capita quantity of recyclables collected.
  • Increased yield rates of recyclables collected, processed and made available to the secondary materials market (quality).
  • Increased average household lbs./year of recyclables collected.
  • Increased access to and participation in recycling collection.
US EPA Sustainable Marketplace: Greener Products and Services

sustain_conceptThis resource provides recommendations for standards and ecolabels that signify a green product or service. It identifies “greener” products and services for consumers, institutions, and governments to use to plan their purchasing responsibly. It also outlines the benefits of buying green, how to read an ecolabel, and lists many programs with green purchasing guidance.

For manufacturers, specifically, this Sustainable Marketplace gives guidance on how to sell to the federal government and how to use the "3E” strategy (i.e., Economy, Energy, and Environment) to reduce pollution and energy use while increasing profits and creating new job opportunities.

You can find a complete history, dating back to 1990, of updates that have been made to this resource.

Federal Trade Commission Green Guides

FTC Green Guides are intended to be used by marketers to avoid greenwashing claims. Greenwashing is disinformation that an organization claims about their product or service to present an environmentally responsible public image. These guides help marketers promote sustainable qualities of their products and/or services in a truthful and non-deceptive way.

Find a summary of the recent updates made to the Green Guides here.

GSA’s Green Procurement

100percent_sustain_graphicThe US General Services Administration’s Green Procurement Compilation is a purchasing resource designed for the use of federal contractors and program managers. It is comprehensive in that it consolidates mandatory and non-mandatory green purchasing requirements from all federal programs.

Some materials of interest for printing operations are:

Each section offers information about any additional guidance and references for the category, a list of legal requirements for the products in each category, and a list of products that meet purchasing guidelines and where to buy them.

Council of Environmental Quality

The Council of Environmental Quality oversees Federal agency National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementation and develops and recommends national policies to the President that promote the improvement of environmental quality and meet the Nation’s goals, such as sustainable procurement policies.

See the Council’s Sustainability Initiatives here.

EPA Safer Choice

EPA’s Safer Choice Program helps consumers, businesses, and purchasers find cleaning products that perform and contain ingredients that are safer for human health and the environment. This resource provides an inventory of safer products and chemicals as well as a guide to reading safer product labels.

PRINTING United Alliance’s Sustainability Issues and Trends resources provide practical information meant to allow printing operations to manage compliance and stay informed. For more information on Sustainable Procurement or other Sustainability topics, email or call 888-385-3588.