What do we mean by Sustainable Procurement? Also referred to as Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policies, asks the purchaser to consider that the products and services bought achieve value for money spent but also generate benefits for the purchasing organization as well as the environment, society and economy. Sustainable procurement is to ensure that their purchasing reflects broader goals linked to resource efficiency, climate change, social responsibility and economic resilience.
On March 19, 2015, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade. The goal of EO 13693 is to maintain Federal leadership in sustainability and greenhouse gas emission reductions through the promotion of sustainable acquisition and procurement of products and services by federal agencies. Federal procurement actions must include specific environmental performance and sustainability factors to the maximum extent practicable for:
- Meeting statutory mandates requiring purchase preference for recycled content, energy and water efficiency, and biopreferred/biobased products;
- Purchasing sustainable products/services identified by EPA programs including Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP), WaterSense, Safer Choice and SmartWay; and
- Purchasing environmentally preferable products/services that meet or exceed EPA recommendations or meet environmental performance criteria in voluntary consensus standards.
The EO directs EPA to provide federal purchasers with recommendations of specifications, standards and ecolabels to use in identifying and procuring environmentally preferable products and services.
State Procurement Activities
- New York State
Executive Order 4, Establishing a State Green Procurement and Agency Sustainability Program, directs state agencies, public authorities and public benefit corporations to green their procurements and to implement sustainability initiatives. An Interagency Committee is charged with identifying an annual list of categories and products for which specifications can be developed and issued for greener procurements. The current EO4 specifications include printing. This specification encourages the use of printers which meet the requirements of the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership Program.
- California State University, Northridge
The university has adopted an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy tackling specific products and services as well as general purchasing decisions including:
“Suppliers who strive to improve their environmental performance and provide environmentally preferable products, and who can document the supply-chain impacts of their efforts.”