3. Establish Desired Criteria

It is important to establish environmental criteria for purchases that reflect the local government’s environmental priorities. These criteria will help determine which products and services to target for substitution, and will shape the development of product specifications. Local government policies may include a list of environmental attributes sought in products and services procured. Alameda County, for example, seeks products that include “recycled content, are durable and long-lasting, conserve energy and water, use agricultural fibers and residues, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, use unbleached or chlorine free manufacturing processes, and use wood from sustainably harvested forests.” Examples of some of the most commonly cited environmental attributes include:

  • Bio-based
  • Biodegradable
  • Carcinogen-free
  • Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-free
  • Compostable
  • Durable
  • Energy efficient
  • Lead-free
  • Less hazardous
  • Locally managed
  • Low volatile organic compound (VOC) content
  • Low toxicity
  • Persistent bioaccumulative toxics (PBT)-free
  • (Rapidly) renewable materials
  • Recyclable
  • Recycled content
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduced packaging
  • Refurbished
  • Resource efficient
  • Upgradeable
  • Water efficient
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Environmentally Preferable Purchasing