To reduce the amount of waste shipped to California landfills, state agencies are mandated by the Integrated Waste Management Act to purchase recycled-content products (RCPs). They must meet environmental criteria in the following eleven product categories, with varying minimum recycled content levels required:
In determining procurement specifications for state purchases, all legislative procurement and purchasing specifications must be established in a manner that results in the maximum procurement and purchase of RCPs. To encourage the use of RCPs, state specifications require recycled product contracts be awarded to the bidder whose product contains the greatest percentage of recycled material, so long as the fitness, quality, and price match those of products made from virgin materials. Additionally, state agencies may establish "recycled product-only bids, cooperative purchasing arrangements, or other mechanisms" (SB 1106) to meet state recycling requirements.
The California State Department of General Services (DGS) develops and administers contracts for goods and services that promote RCPs and other environmental attributes, such as energy and water efficiency and reduced toxic materials. The Department also maintains an online list of links to products with positive environmental attributes, for use by government agencies.
While the DGS contracts were originally developed for state agencies, local governments in California also have access to them. Local governments can easily “piggy-back” on existing green procurement contracts between the state and the suppliers of specified products and services. However, before adopting a state contact, each local governmental agency should determine whether the contract is consistent with its own procurement policies and regulations.
Piggy-backing onto the State’s procurement process can be extremely beneficial for local governments. Not only can piggy-backing help local governments purchase green products and services, it can reduce the time and resources required to develop specifications and identify and select the appropriate bidders during the solicitation process. Additionally, because bulk-purchasing is usually less costly, utilizing state contracts can be a particularly cost-effective approach for local governments.