purchasing decisions that municipal offices make can have a substantial impact
on the overall environmental impact of the office while serving as an example to
the community. Purchasing “green” or more environmentally friendly products can
also support local vendors, and often helps recycling programs by creating
markets for the collected materials that are processed and used to manufacture
new products. In turn, this creates new jobs and helps strengthen the economy.
It conserves natural resources, saves energy, and reduces solid waste, air, and
water pollutants, and greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
In 2002, the
U.S. spent around $50 billion on office supplies—a huge potential
market for green products. The magnitude also means that there are ample
opportunities for cost savings. Just sending printers and copying cartridges
for remanufacturing could save U.S. offices $1.5 billion and at least 100,000
barrels of oil annually.
Yet despite the fact that two-thirds of U.S. businesses have policies on
recycling, only 40% have policies regarding the purchase of recycled materials.
Recommendations for making a green
purchasing program a success:
each recycled or environmentally preferable product to determine the extent to
which the product may be used in practice by the agency and its contractors.
recycled products with the best balance of recycled material and cost.
contracts that the office issues require recycled and environmentally preferable
products whenever possible.
contracts for recycled products require that contractors provide certification
of this content and report the amounts used.
that all printing by city agencies uses recycled paper and bears the chasing
arrow logo or other imprint identifying it as such.
sides of paper sheets whenever practicable in printing and copying. See Chapter
5 Waste Reduction Section.
that requests for bids and proposals issued by the city require that contractors
and consultants use recycled paper and both sides of paper sheets whenever
total purchases of environmentally preferable, recycled, and non-recycled
products by the agency and its contractors annually to the climate protection
the use of recycled and other environmentally preferable products by publicizing
and educating others about the procurement program.
was introduced in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a
voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy efficient
products to save energy and reduce GHG emissions. Computers and monitors were
the first labeled products. Through 1995, EPA expanded the label to additional
office equipment products and residential heating and cooling equipment. In
1996, EPA partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy for particular product
STAR® label is now on major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home
electronics and much more. EPA has also extended the label to cover new homes
and commercial and industrial buildings. Overall, ENERGY STAR® office products
use about 50% less energy than standard office equipment.
ENERGY STAR® has
partnerships with more than 8,000 private and public sector organizations, and
so delivers the technical information and tools that organizations and consumers
need to choose energy-efficient solutions and best management practices. ENERGY
STAR® has successfully delivered energy and cost savings across the country,
saving businesses, organizations and consumers about $12 billion in 2005
alone—while saving enough energy to avoid annual greenhouse gas emissions
equivalent to those from 23 million cars.
STAR® website is a good source of information on every product available
containing the ENERGY STAR® label. The site can identify the best ways to
reduce total energy costs using ENERGY STAR® products.
STUDY: New York City, NY
Mayor Bloomberg of New York City put into code the city’s energy
efficient purchasing practices that have been in use since 1994. Local
Law No. 30 requires that all energy-using devices purchased by the city
of New York be ENERGY STAR® labeled, providing that there are at least
six manufacturers producing ENERGY STAR® products. During the fiscal
year of 2002, NYC spent $90.8 million on ENERGY STAR® products, most of
which went to purchasing computer related products such as CPU’s,
printers and monitors.
Jennifer Blum, of NYC’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services
said of the program, “New York City firmly believes that in our role as
a market participant we should promote
the purchase of energy-efficient products.”
adoption of an exclusive ENERGY STAR® purchasing program sends a very strong message to
appliance vendors and manufacturers that major purchasers are now opting
for more efficient technology. The market is forcing manufacturers to
comply, or risk losing business to more efficient competitors. New York
City is a major player in reaching the tipping point for increased
standardized efficiency in appliances.
program itself comes at zero cost, there may be slightly higher up front
costs associated with more efficient appliances (although
not always the case). Yet a net savings can be expected over time
associated with the significantly decreased energy use.
the city passed Local Law 119, which is a more expansive and stringent
version of Local Law No. 30.
Assistant Director & Special
Counsel for Environmental Procurement
Mayor's Office of Contract Services
STUDY: Washington, D.C.
municipal government of the District of Colombia passed the ENERGY STAR®
Efficiency Amendment Act in 2004, requiring city officials to buy only
ENERGY STAR® rated products for energy consuming devices.
states that, "In any
solicitation by an agency for the purchase or lease of energy-using
products, the agency shall include a specification that the products be
ENERGY STAR® labeled; provided, that there are at least 3 manufacturers
that produce products with the ENERGY STAR® label, and that
there are at least 3 responsible vendors offering ENERGY STAR® labeled
program greatly resembles NYC’s ENERGY STAR® legislation in that while
reducing energy use within the city, it also takes advantage of D.C.’s
high profile status to create positive publicity for purchasing of
energy efficient products. Since the legislation was introduced, the DC
Energy Office has scheduled several training sessions, offered by the
EPA, for government officials to help them implement ENERGY STAR®
procurement ENERGY STAR® operation is currently self-regulating, but the
Energy Office is working on putting enforcement mechanisms
in place to hold city government offices
accountable for their purchasing decisions.
Sustainable Solutions Division
policies that encourage or require the use of recycled products in city
operations can reduce costs and serve as a good example to the community.
However, it is also important to focus on how those products are used once they
are purchased and how they are discarded when no longer needed.
Many office products, such as computers, printers and other electronic
equipment can be recycled or refurbished for reuse. PCDisposal.com and other
similar companies offer services such as direct pickup, erasing data from
hard-drives, profit sharing from
equipment resale, preparation for donation and online employee purchasing
programs. Some computer manufacturers, Dell for example, will agree to take
back and recycle used units for a small fee. When negotiating contracts,
departments making large equipment purchases can require that the computer
manufacturer take back the used equipment for recycling at the end of its life
free of charge.
Architectural deconstruction is the systematic dismantling and reuse of
part or all of a building. Reusable and recyclable materials are removed before
the building is demolished. Doing this prevents
large amounts of waste from ending up in a landfill. In addition to
significantly reducing waste, in some communities, salvaged materials can be
donated to a non-profit organization.
Such a tax deduction will offset the cost of recovering the materials making the
process comparable to the cost of demolition and can earn points towards LEED™
The Canadian company i-wasteNot makes and operates community waste
exchanges in the City of Chicago, California, Colorado, Georgia, Washington,
Wisconsin, Massachusetts, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Such exchanges
prevent waste from reaching the landfill, creates jobs and new products instead
of trash. Their online
waste exchanges for residential, industrial and construction demolition waste
facilitate the sale or donation of good used items and material for reuse and
recycling. They bundle these waste exchanges within green community websites
where requested, so that other tools like Green Business Directories, Green
Events and Calendars, Reuse and Recycling Directories
are available to citizen.
Implementing a city policy of purchasing salvaged products whenever
possible, and sending used office equipment to a non-profit salvage company
instead of sending it to the landfill can stimulate local business and create
new jobs by creating a market for and
supplier of salvaged goods. The city of Portland developed a Furniture Surplus
program where city employees can post and view surplus furniture so that it may
be reused by another bureau. The program reduces waste and saves costs
associated with procuring new supplies as well as disposal and recycling fees.
the city of Davis, California adopted a municipal code that mandates
city purchasing of recycled products. The codes require that the city
purchase recycled material with the highest possible recycled content
whenever possible. City departments must implement strategies to
maximize their purchasing and use of recycled materials, equipment and
machinery. In addition, departments must promote the use of products
made from recovered materials and label products to indicate that they
are recycled. The city also agreed to stimulate
the market for recycled goods through cooperation with neighboring
procurement strategy has diverted an impressive 50% of its waste-stream
away from the landfill.
Annual reports must be prepared by the various departments to catalogue
the types and amount of recycled content purchased as well as the
overall cost of these purchases. The mandates also require that no
virgin materials be required in any products for city purchasing.
Senior Utility Resource Specialist
STUDY: San Jose, CA
of San Jose
is a pioneering leader in municipal recycling programs with a curbside
pickup program serving over 165,000 residents. The city recognized,
however, that just collecting
neatly separated trash in bins is not quite enough to close the
city officials decided to create a market for the products produced
from recycling by creating the Buy Recycled program in 1990. San Jose
now purchases over 40 types of recycled content products. More
recently, in September 2001, the city council adopted a policy that
addresses Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP).
city offices, everything from copy paper to printer paper, as well as
post it notes and folders contain post-consumer waste. Janitorial
products such as paper towels and trash bags are made of recycled
material, as is the compost used in city parks. All paper products and
printing done through contracts outside of the city is mandated to be on
paper. The city has set a standard of using up to 95% recycled material
for street signs, as well as refurbished aluminum.
vehicular fleet maintenance crew utilizes recycled oil and antifreeze
products in its fleet. At first this was a tough sell, but the recycled
automotive products have greatly exceeded the crew’s expectations. They
now prefer the recycled oil because it burns better and runs cleaner.
saves around $10,000 every year through purchasing of recycled products,
and reaps unquantifiable environmental benefits.
Local purchasing programs are programs that prioritize patronizing local
businesses before buying from “absentee” owners or large, distant corporations.
Buying locally reduces transportation costs and emissions of purchased goods and
can also stimulate and support the local economy by supporting local businesses
and jobs. In addition, people are increasingly likely to invest in or move to
communities that preserve the culture embodied in its unique businesses.
Buy-local programs are a good investment for a community’s future because three
times more money stays in the local economy when goods and services are bought
from locally owned
businesses instead of large chain stores.
adopt a city procurement policy of buying from locals before non-local
businesses and can also create a local first campaign where the city encourages
the community as a whole to buy from local businesses.
Local city procurement policies are sometimes difficult to implement,
especially for smaller cities without a large industrial sector. Combining a
buy-local procurement policy with a buy-green procurement policy can become
complicated and costly.
However, by making a conscious effort to look for local products before
making purchasing decisions, cities can reduce the carbon footprint of purchases
and boost their
local economies with relatively little effort.
of a local first campaign is that it has a low cost to the city government and
improves the local government’s interaction with the community. Many such
campaigns are organized by the local businesses themselves with the government
playing a partnering role. Campaigns can consist of everything from rallies,
public events, distribution of literature, stickers or placards placed in
windows to designated local businesses, media coverage, websites with relevant
information and much more. The success of a campaign largely depends on the
effectiveness of its outreach to the community, so the more creative it is, the
more likely it is to gain community involvement.
STUDY: Philadelphia, PA
Buy Local program is an excellent example of a city program to promote
patronage of independent local businesses. For every $100 spent on
local businesses, $45 goes back into the local
economy, as opposed to only $14 for a non-locally owned business. The
website for the Buy Local program includes information regarding local
businesses, a comprehensive directory of registered local businesses
as well as information on how to register your business.
Maine’s, local purchasing program went into effect in the summer of
2006. For a $20 membership fee, qualifying businesses (the business
must be registered in Portland, and the owners must live locally) can
obtain a window decal and poster to be displayed at their business that
reads “Buy Local: Keep Portland
Independent”. The fees also go toward maintaining the website,
administrative costs and local media advertising.
Portland Buy Local campaign is a non-profit group led by a coalition of
local business owners, pro-business organizations, city officials, and
consumer activists. The city of Portland
marketing and economic development staff has helped guide and support
this effort. As of 2006, the Buy Local campaign has around 160
participating local businesses.
CASE STUDY: Santa Fe, NM
is a locally run program dedicated to building an alliance between local
businesses, non-profits, government and community members. The Alliance
has a commitment to educating the people of Santa Fe on the benefits of
supporting locally run and owned businesses.
businesses and non profits that chose to sign on to the program with a
minimum donation of $100 for a business and $30 for a non-profit benefit
through a link on the website to their business as well as publicity in
Alliance newspaper advertisements and educational
information. As of 2006, the Santa Fe Alliance has over 700
participating local businesses.
dedicated to building strong local economies through uniting local businesses
and educating citizens on the benefits of local purchasing include:
The following is a
list of some office products with green alternatives:
Highlighters, Markers, Correction
Fluid: Buy non-toxic, water-based. Conventional aromatic solvent and
alcohol-based contain toxic materials. Choose refillable markers if available.
Clipboards: Buy recycled.
Clipboards made of 100 percent post-consumer plastic are now available.
Paper-based Office Products: Buy
recycled, chlorine-free. Paper manufacture using virgin pulp consumes trees and
is highly water intensive, energy intensive, and polluting.
Binders and Folders: Binders made
from 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard and 100% post-consumer recycled PET
(from soft drink bottles) are available.
Self-Stick Notes: Buy 100% recycled
or use electronic programs like Stickies
Envelopes: Buy unbleached,
light-weight and recycled. FedEx and other shippers use envelopes made of Tyvek
because of their lighter weight and strength. The lighter weight translates
directly into fuel savings, particularly in the case of long-distance
shipments. Tyvek also incorporates 25% post-consumer recycled content from
plastic milk and water jugs, and the used envelopes are recyclable.
Pens and Pencils: Buy refillable
pens, and pens made from recycled materials. Buy pencils made from recycled
materials, such as lunch trays and shredded dollar bills.
Toner Cartridges: Remanufactured
cartridges can be obtained at roughly half the price of a new one while
significantly reducing the environmental impact of discarding cartridges.
Presentation Transparencies: Buy at
least 50% total recycled content with at least 25% post-consumer recycled
Slag cement (95% less CO2 emitted
than regular cement
80 PLUS computer power supplies for
PCs and servers
Bio-based lubricants,etc. (fleet
The Federal Energy Management
FEMP criteria and the federal ENERGY STAR® energy efficiency labeling program
identify efficient products, helping agencies “buy efficient”, often as part of
an agency’s broader policy to "buy green".
City of Berkeley Resolution to adopt
an Environmental Preferable Purchasing Policy
A portion of the resolution states: Policy requires purchase of products and
services that minimize environmental and health impacts, toxics, pollution, and
hazards to workers and community safety and to the larger global community to
the greatest extent practicable. Specifications are described for Source Reduction, Toxics Reduction and
Pollution Prevention, Recycled Content products, Energy and Water Savings, Green
Building Construction and Renovation, Landscaping, Forest Conservation, and
Agricultural and Bio-based products.
Integrated Waste Management Board
For a directory of
companies that meet or exceed these standards, please visit the California
Integrated Waste Management Board’s website:
A good deal of information can also be found on the best ways to reduce, reuse,
where to purchase recycled office supplies in this document hosted by Seattle’s
Promoting Green Purchasing
Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program has announced the availability of a new
document entitled "Promoting Green Purchasing: Tools and Resources to Quantify
the Benefits of Environmentally Preferable Purchasing." This compilation of
tools and resources will be useful to any organization trying to estimate the
environmental and economic benefits of both past and projected EPP choices.