California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

Tools and Resources

How does one practice EPP? This page provides a collection of available tools and other resources to help individuals and organizations initiate or improve their EPP performance.

Buying Products

California State Government

  • Buying Green Guide for Buyers (Department of General Services) Provides links to California state contracts that offer environmentally preferable products and for some products there is additional information about buying green. DGS considers California environmental laws and regulatory standards when developing contracts and all state government entities should check the Buying Green Guide for Buyers for requirements specific to state purchases.

Others

  • Green Purchasing Toolkit (National Association of Counties) Covers comprehensive and basic information about EPP, eco logos and standards, writing bids, model policies, product guides, case studies and more. This includes examples from various local governments in California.
  • EPP Resources (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) Contains comprehensive information on green products and services, federal green buying requirements, how to calculate the costs and benefits of purchasing choices, and manage green purchasing processes. It also provides access to:
  • Products with Recycled Content. One aspect of EPP is buying products with recycled content. Less energy is typically required to make a product with recycled content, even when transportation is considered, so buying products with recycled content offers greater environmental benefits as compared to products made from virgin materials. Also, buying products that are reusable or recyclable extends the use of the materials they contain and contributes to a truly cyclical and sustainable materials flow.
  • Climate-Friendly Purchasing Policy. (Institute for Local Government) The Institute’s sample Climate-Friendly Purchasing policy focuses on purchasing practices that help address climate change. Many products that are environmentally preferable also support climate-friendly purchasing programs

Selling Products

California Specifications and Standards for Select Products

Check the Buying Green Guide for Buyers maintained by the California Department of General Services for the latest information. CalRecycle has focused on making environmentally preferable product options more available, especially for these products:

Carpet

Carpet accounts for a significant portion of municipal solid waste-about 3.2 percent by volume, and can have significant impacts on the indoor environment. For these reasons, California environmental agencies participated in the development of an environmental specification for carpet procurement. In 2004 the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB, now known as CalRecycle), California's State and Consumer Services Agency, and the Department of General Services, aided by a grant from the U.S. EPA Region 9, developed the California Gold Sustainable Carpet Standard (2006) (PDF, 298 KB). Features of this standard were incorporated in the NSF 140, platinum level, and became the standard for carpet purchased by state facilities, when it was incorporated into the State Administrative Manual, Management Memo 10-01 (PDF, 28 KB).

Construction

CalRecycle’s Green Project Specifications page explains the basics of project specifications and identifies areas to include environmental specifications into a building project. Links to example specifications are also provided. This page also briefly explains CSI MasterFormat™.

Electronics

In response to the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003, the CIWMB (now CalRecycle) evaluated and adopted the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (Word, 33 KB) (EPEAT) rating system as environmental purchasing criteria to be used by state agencies to identify electronic devices with reduced environmental impacts. The Department of General Services then incorporated EPEAT silver level or better in state contract specifications and this continues as a mandatory requirement. EPEAT certification exists for desktop units, laptop or notebook computers, and monitors and is expanding to printing devices, televisions and cellular phones.

Furniture, Modular

In 2000, an interagency subcommittee of the Sustainable Building Task Force finalized a groundbreaking environmental specification for modular office furniture purchased under state contract. The specification set new industry standards for indoor air quality, prescribed a high level of recycled content in components and packaging, banned chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) used in foam production, and addressed energy-efficient task lighting designed for work stations. In 2012, California’s Open Office Panel System contract continues to set standards for energy efficient lighting, indoor air quality, and recycled content in materials. Recycled and post-consumer content minimums were set across a variety of categories, from fiberglass to steel.

Paint

In August, 2006, Green Seal, Inc. and the Product Stewardship Institute announced the completion of a national environmental standard for recycled-content latex paint. The standard is aimed at assuring consumers that recycled paint, in addition to being environmentally beneficial, can perform as well as virgin paint, both in terms of ease of application and quality and longevity of finish. The standard, GS-43, is available online (this standard incorporates the performance standard developed by the Master Painters Institute for recycled paint). The Department of General Services has a contract for recycled latex paint that incorporates these standards. Certified recycled latex paint offers the same performance as virgin paint, but at a reduced cost.

Last updated: January 10, 2014
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP), http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/EPP/
Kathy Frevert: Kathy.Frevert@calrecycle.ca.gov, (916) 341-6476