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Green Procurement - Pollution Prevention Regional Information Center Topic Hub

This topic hub addresses information about the selection by an organization of products and services that reduce environmental impacts and provides a glimpse of the enormous impact purchasing decisions can have on the environment.


Green purchasing is referred to by many names: responsible purchasing, eco-procurement, green procurement, and sustainable purchasing just to name a few. It's a way of adding environmental considerations to the price and performance criteria used by public and private sector procurement officers to make purchasing decisions. Most importantly, green purchasing attempts to identify and reduce the environmental impact of an organization's activities and maximize resource efficiency. Green purchasing is a spending and investment process typically associated with public policy, although it is equally applicable to the private sector. It is linked to the wider agenda of sustainable development. Organizations practicing sustainable procurement meet their needs for goods, services, utilities and works not on a private cost-benefit analysis, but with a view to maximizing net benefits for themselves and the wider world. In doing so they must incorporate extrinsic cost considerations into decisions alongside the conventional procurement criteria of price and quality, although in practice the sustainable impacts of a potential supplier's approach are often assessed as a form of quality consideration. These considerations are typically divided thus: environmental, economic and social (also known as the “triple bottom line”).

Green purchasing consists of choosing products that:

  • Contain recycled materials--made from sustainable resources, recycled or re-manufactured materials or parts
  • Minimize waste--minimal packaging that is recyclable or reusable (take-back provisions)
  • Conserve energy and/or water or other natural resources
  • Prevent pollution--emissions, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), etc.
  • Consist of fewer toxic substances or reduce the amount of toxic substances disposed or consumed
  • Protect open-space
  • Encourage an environmentally positive practice (water fountains, compost bins, recycling containers, engine block heaters, etc.)
  • Uses energy alternatives to fossil fuel

The following are some important attributes of green purchasing:

  • Toxic ingredients
  • Energy use
  • Solid waste
  • Water conservation
  • Social Responsibility
  • Economic development