Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP)
EPP is the procurement of goods and services that have less impact than competing products serving the same purpose. It is an essential part of our search for high-quality products and services at competitive prices.
EPP must consider environmental factors such as:
- Postconsumer recycled content
- Energy efficiency
- Low/zero air emissions
- Low/zero hazardous substances
- Water efficiency
- Easy, nonhazardous maintenance
- End-of-life management keeps materials out of landfills (e.g., reuse, recycling, return to manufacturers)
- Low life-cycle cost
- Responsible manufacturing
- Packaging and distribution efficiency
To reduce the quantity and toxicity of waste in California, state agencies and other public entities must consider environmentally preferable factors like:
- Made with recycled content
- Can be recycled again
The Department of General Services (DGS) Procurement Division serves as the lead agency for EPP.
- State Agencies should check DGS’s Buying Green Guide
- DGS Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program
Department of General Services Procurement Division
707 Third Street, 2nd Floor West Sacramento, CA 95605
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
- Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) are third-party verified reports that detail a product’s impacts on the environment.
- The International Standards Organization (ISO) 14025 defines EPDs as a Type III declaration that “quantifies environmental information on the life cycle of a product to enable comparisons between products fulfilling the same function.”
- EPDs can be product-specific, factory-specific, or industry-wide.
- For compliance with the Buy Clean California Act (BCCA), DGS developed an EPD Compliance Guide.
Life Cycle Considerations
In addition to providing economic benefits, recycling offers environmental benefits.
- Reduces our reliance on virgin materials
- Reduces pollution
- Saves energy
- Mitigates global climate change
- Reduces pressures on biodiversity
Recycling’s environmental benefits are found at every stage of the product’s life cycle, from the mining of the raw material, through its manufacture, use, and final disposal.
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a popular way organize the comprehensive analysis of environmental impacts over a product’s entire life cycle, from cradle to grave.
- Examine the most significant:
- Inputs (energy, water, raw materials, equipment, supplies, finished goods)
- Outputs (products, product use, and non-product outputs)
- Processes (focus first on those with the largest inputs or outputs)
- Consider the direct impacts of your actions
- Move upstream and downstream to look at the impact of:
- The companies you do business with
- The companies they do business with, and
- The companies they do business with
- Consider the choices your organization can make to
- Improve profitability
- Reduce environmental impacts
- Increase resilience for both your organization and those you impact.
A product or service has environmental impacts throughout its life cycle—both before and after it is purchased and used. That life cycle includes:
- Activities associated with raw material acquisition
- Product manufacturing
- Packaging and transportation
- Product use
A product’s environmental attributes can measure of its environmental impacts. Compare the environmental impacts of competing products for qualities like:
- Recycled content
- Energy efficiency
- Reduced toxicity
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, with funding from U.S. EPA and other federal agencies, developed a lifecycle-based decision support tool called BEES (Building for Economic and Environmental Sustainability). With BEES you can set your own environmental priorities or rely on experts to decide preferences.
To evaluate the environmental impacts of a potential purchase, you can also contact:
- Contractors specializing in environmental purchasing
- Nongovernmental organizations such as Green Seal, Scientific Certification Systems, or other organizations.
Tools and Resources
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) EPP Resources
- Federal Trade Commission Green purchasing guides
- U.S. EPA Database of product-specific purchasing information (environmental standards and guidelines or contract language)
- StopWaste.org provides sustainable purchasing implementation resources, including purchasing policy templates.
- Buy Recycled Resources
- Recycled-Content Product Manufacturers
- State Agency Buy Recycled Program
- Environmentally Preferable Purchasing in Health Care
- The Institute for Local Government Climate-Friendly Purchasing Policy focuses on purchasing practices that help address climate change.
California Specifications and Standards for Select Products
Check the DGS Buying Green Guide for the latest information.
- CalRecycle Marketing EPP Product/Services to State Agencies page gives information to help business market their environmentally-preferred products and services to state government entities.
- DGS How to do Business with the State of California page provides information on selling products to state agencies.
- Green California provides information on the policies California is implementing to reduce its environmental footprint through sustainable state government operations and practices.
- Procurement and Environmental Standards Workgroup is a group of state procurement professionals and subject matter experts who collaborate to establish the environmental requirements for procurements and policy.
Existing California Law Public Contract Code Section 12400—Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, formerly known as AB 498, directs the Department of General Services (DGS), in consultation with the California Environmental Protection Agency, members of the public, industry, and public health and environmental organizations, to provide state agencies with information and assistance regarding environmentally preferable purchasing.
The DGS Procurement Division, as the state lead agency for EPP, provides links to California state contracts that offer environmentally preferable products. DGS considers California environmental laws, policies, and regulatory standards. All state government entities should check the Buying Green Guide for requirements specific to state purchases.