You may have heard about it – you may even be doing it! Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) or green purchasing is a long phrase for what’s really an easy concept – selecting and buying products because they are better for the environment in some way, such as less toxic, conserves energy or water, or uses recycled materials.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
► Buy refurbished office products like fax machines, printers, and copiers. Refurbished products perform as well as the new ones, and usually come with a warranty.
► Consider remanufactured toner cartridges. Most toner cartridges can be used more than once by professionally remanufacturing and refilling them, and they are typically cheaper than the new ones.
► Purchase nontoxic cleaners. Toxic cleaning products can harm your employees, your customers, and the environment – and disposal is more expensive! Nontoxic cleaners clean and sanitize just as well, and aren’t a liability for your business.
► Consider buying in bulk and in concentrate. This reduces production waste and packaging, decreasing the amount of garbage landfilled.
► Select products made from post-consumer recycled content. Talk with your supplier about what your options are. Check with other suppliers, as well.
Looking to start a green purchasing program? Follow these steps for a successful program.
► Take time to learn the “lingo”. Understanding the language used to describe green products will help you understand a product’s environmental marketing claims.
► Look at your current buying practices and inventory. Start with the products that are easy to replace. Next, think about the obstacles involved in replacing the other products and brainstorm solutions.
► Design a program for increasing green purchasing. You will need to select and test products, keep track of costs, write purchasing requirements, and evaluate your program’s effectiveness. A pilot program could help resolve any problems you may experience.
► Educate your coworkers, suppliers, and customers about the new purchasing policies and program. Give them information on how to identify and assess environmentally preferable products and sources.
► Track and measure the results of your program. This provides you with important information about the program: what worked, what didn’t. Be sure to share this information.
Check out these useful resources.
► The US Environmental Protection Agency’s EPP program is geared towards federal purchasers but provides easy indexes for general use.
► The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) publishes an on-line directory of hundreds of recycled content products made in Minnesota. The State’s EPP website provides valuable information on standards and certifications of green products.
► The Materials Exchange program is a free service that links organizations that have reusable goods they no longer need with those that can use them.
► Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN) is a membership based international network of buyers dedicated to green purchasing.
► King County, Washington is a national leader in environmentally preferable purchasing.