Product Stewardship for Manufacturers

Green Purchasing

Procurement policies, measures, or preferences, that specify environmentally preferable products and services. Businesses, and consumers can use their purchasing power to leverage supplier practices, products, and decisions, for better environmental protection.

By specifying purchasing preferences for products that have less environmental impact, organizations can spur manufacturers to: use recycled-content, design for recycling/reuse, consume less energy or water, minimize waste, or create less toxic products. Procurement preferences can provide an immediate market for environmentally and socially responsible products.

Checklist of suggestions for enviromental purchasing.

Who's Doing It?

How to Start and Operate an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program

checkbox Work to secure management commitment, then publicize a statement of intent or mission

Reason: Establishes management support and sets priorities
Example: In some cases, this effort starts with a self-motivated individual or group that gains more recognition over time, through small successes in environmental purchasing

checkbox Designate one (or more) staff to coordinate environmental purchasing efforts at the company

Reason: Establishes accountability and expertise
Example: A coordinator can become the resident expert, who helps the end users research and evaluate products

checkbox Request suppliers to help set up an evaluation system that allows end users to test and evaluate a new office products, supplies, materials, and other

Reason: End users know what they need and can test the products to see if they will meet those needs
Example: Have a department test and evaluate a new product before they commit to purchasing the product

checkbox Become familiar with available "green" products and the suppliers

Reason: Find the best products quickly
Examples: Recycled products databases, GSA Environmental Products and Services Guide, and EPA's Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines. Note that commercial businesses and other non-governmental entities can learn much about and purchase green products through governmental sources.

checkbox Network and share information internally and externally

Reason: Learn from others, and let others learn from you

  • King County has a great e-bulletin on their green purchasing projects and efforts
  • Subscribe to listserves and national green purchasing organizations; one excellent listserve is EPPNET

checkbox Know what products you currently purchase, then work with suppliers on finding alternatives for any products with high life-cycle impacts, contain hazardous or toxic materials, etc.

Reason: Less impact on the environment, and health & safety of staff and customers
Example: A current supplier may have additional green products that you are not yet aware of

checkbox Let end users make the final purchasing decisions after evaluation

Reason: End users have to believe in the product
Example: The end users know what they need and what will work for them

checkbox Buy or lease refurbished goods

Reason: Saves money and its environmentally friendly
Examples: Refurbished toner cartridges; copiers, printers, fax machines, retread tires, re-refined oil

checkbox When possible, close the loop by having suppliers take some of your end-of-life products and refurbish them for reuse at your business

Reason: Saves money, eliminates a waste stream, and encourages buying recycled
Example: Partner with an oil recycler so that your used oil can be re-refined and sold back to your organization

checkbox Don't forget to buy green energy

Reason: Utilize renewable energy sources
Example: Find out where to buy green electricity in your state

checkbox Green your supply chain

Reason: More available products; impact and influence your suppliers
Example: Require suppliers to evaluate the environmental impact of the products they sell

checkbox Publicize successes and lessons, including product performance, cost and environmental savings, etc.

Reason: Further accountability and information sharing
Example: King County Environmental Purchasing Program's Annual Report


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