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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.

Environmental Impact/Benefits

It is important to keep in mind that the purchasing decisions we make affect our local environment and the health of our citizens and workers as well as the global community. The following are some examples of how green purchasing can address the key environmental issues mentioned throughout this guide. By purchasing EPPs that are:

Reduce energy use - we help to limit energy consumption, which in turn lowers our emissions of sulfur dioxide (which causes acid rain) and carbon dioxide (a primary greenhouse gas).

Reduce raw material use - made with a percentage of post-consumer recycled content instead of pure virgin products, we reduce the need to extract raw materials, such as petroleum, trees or metals and, in general, use less energy and water. Reduce the amount of waste in our overstressed landfills.

Reduce water use - designed to reuse and/or reduce the amount of water needed to perform certain tasks, we actively work toward conserving this very valuable resource. Such products and technologies involve plumbing devices, cooling systems, appliances, water treatment technologies and more.

Fewer toxic ingredients - we minimize the hazardous impacts of those products during the manufacturing process (e.g. water / air pollution) as well as reduce the damage caused through accidental spills and improper disposal. We also reduce the risk to workers handling the products and the risks posed to building occupants when the product is in use.

Use renewable and clean energy technologies - utilizing renewable energy and clean technologies works toward reducing our dependency on foreign petroleum, stimulating economic development for innovative technologies and meeting our goals for clean energy production.

Reduce total costs - while green purchasing can help an agency economically as well as lighten its environmental impacts, it can also help departments to improve their efficiency, reduce liabilities, and gain competitive advantage when applying for grant and other funding opportunities. The fact is that a green purchasing program is an excellent way of finding products with a high price-performance ratio and with improved use rates. Evaluating a potential purchase by initial (purchase-point) cost alone can actually incur greater total costs for a department. A department's green purchasing program can help identify and reduce hidden costs and develop cost reduction strategies for the entire organization. Some examples of cost savings opportunities include:

  • Reduced hazardous management costs (e.g. using less toxic products);
  • Reduced operational costs (energy savings from efficient equipment);
  • Reduced disposal costs (hazardous and solid waste) by generating less waste and using longer lasting products;
  • Reduced repair and replacement costs when using more durable and repairable equipment;
  • Reduced employee safety and health costs at the facility with reduced potential liability by improving the work environment and minimizing risks to workers
  • Reduced material and energy consumption.