Many companies have instituted purchasing policies that give preference to environmentally intelligent products in an effort to enhance their ecological performance. Consider implementing your own environmentally preferable purchasing policy based on the sample policy below.
Sample Purchasing Policy
The goal of this policy is to ensure that products and services purchased by or contracted for [our organization] conform to [the organization’s] Environmental Policy. [Our organization] will strive, where feasible, to purchase environmentally preferable products and services that meet the organization’s needs.
Where possible, purchasing decisions shall favor:
- Products that contain the highest percentage of postconsumer recycled content possible
- Products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or are made with renewable energy
- Products that are reusable, recyclable or bio-based/compostable
- Products that eliminate or reduce the use of chemicals hazardous to the environment and public health
- Products that reduce air and water pollution
- Products with minimal packaging
- Suppliers that provide environmentally preferable products and can document the supply-chain impacts of their efforts
- Products that serve several functions (e.g. multipurpose cleaner) and reduce the overall number of products purchased
Environmentally preferable products and services that are of comparable quality and price to their standard counterparts shall receive purchasing preference. In situations where environmentally preferable products are unavailable or impractical, secondary considerations shall include the environmental management practices of suppliers and producers.
The purchase of environmentally preferable products is part of the organization’s long-term commitment to fans, employees, and the environment. By sending a clear signal to producers and suppliers, [our organization] hopes to support wider adoption of environmentally preferable products and practices.
Implementing Environmental Procurement
Purchasing policies can be as prescriptive (or aspirational) as your organization chooses. In some cases, environmentally preferable products can be purchased at little or no increase in cost. And in those cases where the price of environmentally superior products exceeds those currently used, the increased cost can sometimes be mitigated by more efficient operations. Recycled paper, for example, sometimes costs more than virgin paper. However, this cost can usually be offset by double-sided printing and other reductions in paper use.
A company-wide purchasing policy encourages sustainable purchasing practices at all levels of the organization and helps ensure that green efforts are not diminished with employee turnover. Purchasing policies should be comprehensive and cover a wide range of products and services. Policies can vary widely, and you should implement a policy that works best for your organization.
Corporate Purchasing Policy Examples
A Common Vision for Transforming the Paper Industry
EPA – Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines: Supplier Database
EPA – Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database
Environmental Benefits and Cost Savings Calculator for Purchasers