Berkeley, California

The City of Berkeley’s purchasing policy is based on the model developed by the Alameda County Waste Management Authority to guide government and business green purchasing, yet also builds on the city’s existing practices. Like San Francisco’s PPO, it uses a Precautionary Principle framework for environmental purchasing. The policy also lists all city purchasing ordinances and resolutions, to facilitate a holistic approach to related policies.

In October 2003, the Berkeley City Council formed an Ad Hoc Precautionary Principle Working Group which included representatives from diverse organizations including the Women's Cancer Resource Center, Breast Cancer Action, Commonweal, Clean Water Fund, and the Ecology Center, as well as members of four Berkeley commissions (Energy, Solid Waste, Community Environmental, and Community Health). This group catalyzed the environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) policy implementation, which was phased in based on available resources and city priorities.

Whenever possible, the city uses existing eco-labels and standards to make purchasing decisions. To develop the list of preferred products, the Office of Energy & Sustainable Development and other environmental staff advised the General Services Manager regarding environmentally preferable products and labels that comply with the following policy goals:

  • Develop a strong recycling market
  • Reduce waste by increasing efficiency and effectiveness
  • Conserve water and energy
  • Use agricultural fibers and residues
  • Reduce GHG emissions
  • Use unbleached or chlorine-free manufacturing practices
  • Use wood from sustainably harvested forests
  • Purchase energy from renewable sources
  • Eliminate mercury, lead, and bioaccumulative toxins
  • Increase protection of human health
  • Support manufacturers that reduce adverse environmental and health impacts
  • Create a purchasing model that encourages other buyers

The General Services Manager is also tasked with providing a biannual EPP report to the City Council. The report relates progress in meeting the goals and objectives of the EPP policy and notes any barriers encountered, recommendations for resolution, and assistance needed to continuously improve staff’s ability to meet policy objectives.