What is sustainable procurement?
Sustainable procurement is an effort to procure products and services in a way that seeks to optimize net environmental, social and economic benefits for society. The goal of sustainable procurement is to incorporate criteria related to environmental, social and economic sustainability into agency procurements.
The Sustainability Act of 2001 established the foundation for sustainable procurement in Oregon. It defined sustainability goals for the state, including procurement, and established the Oregon Sustainability Board. One of the Sustainability Act’s procurement goals is to make state purchases serve the broad, long-term financial interests of Oregonians and to ensure that environmental, economic and societal improvements are made to enhance their well-being. Other procurement sustainability goals described in statute include:
- Investments in facilities, equipment and durable goods should reflect the highest feasible efficiency and lowest life cycle costs.
- Investments and expenditures should help promote improvements in the efficient use of energy, water and resources.
- State operations should:
- be located in diverse locations, including rural and distressed communities.
- reflect partnerships with communities and businesses.
- help reduce adverse impacts on native habitats and species and help restore ecological processes.
- be conducted in ways that significantly increase the efficient use of energy, water and resources
- State operations and purchases should:
- help maintain vital and active downtown and main street communities.
- support opportunities for economically distressed communities and historically underemployed people.
- reflect the efficient use and reuse of resources and reduction of contaminants released into the environment.
Using a life cycle approach in sustainable procurement
An agency must consider the use of life cycle costing for all Competitive Sealed Bidding and proposal methods and may optionally consider this cost analysis for other sourcing methods (refer to OAR 125-247-0170). Life cycle costing calculates the cost to acquire, operate, support, and dispose of a product over its useful life, and considers sustainability and total cost of ownership as part of the best value analysis of the product and the services that impact or use the product.
If an agency determines that it will use life cycle costing, it must specify the requirements, terms, conditions, and evaluation criteria related to the procurement in its solicitation documents and should begin this process during the
A procurement professional can gain an understanding of the industry, production disposal methods and options available to promote sustainable procurement when
conducting market research
. A procurement professional can also engage the supplier community to understand its role in promoting sustainable procurement practices in their industry.
How to employ sustainable procurement practices
An agency should strive to meet the state’s goals and objectives for sustainability through its procurement practices. The following section describes the general practices that an agency can employ to advance these goals and objectives, and satisfy specific requirements and guidance for procuring environmentally sustainable products.
To advance sustainability, consider the following questions during the planning and conducting of a procurement:
- Promote electronic ordering practices that eliminate or reduce the need for paper.
|Packaging and shipping|
- Promote the use of recyclable packaging materials, and eliminate use of plastics and other non-recyclable materials in packing and shipping.
- Limit driving and reduce overall carbon footprint in delivery of products and services.
- Promote use of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles for delivery.
- Buy solutions that support sustainable procurement, for example solutions that address energy consumption, noise level, waste managements (delivery, recycle, disposal).
- Buy products that support environmentally sustainable practices, for example low-energy light bulbs.
- Identify sustainably responsible solutions for product disposal after its useful life.
- Promote sustainable practices in the delivery of services, for example use of environmentally sustainable products in janitorial services.
|Recyclability and reuse|
- Promote the use of recycled materials in procurement.
- Prefer products that can be recycled, reused, or repaired.
- Buy safer, less toxic products.
- Eliminate use of paper in our interactions with the supplier.
- Work with suppliers to get consistent reporting on sustainability outcomes in contracts.
- Build specific reporting requirements to show that the products are supported by third-party certification.
- Buy products and services that support social goals and objectives, such as improved communities, inclusiveness, equality, fair labor standards, diversity, regeneration, and integration.
- Buy products and services based on full lifecycle costs including sustainable and environmental impacts.
- Buy products and services that foster global fair trade and ethical practices.
- Buy products and services that foster innovation.
- Include requirements for independent third-party certification standards for the product.
- Include requirements for supplier sustainability program and environmental practices related to their products and services.
Environmentally preferable procurement
The definition of Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) is products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products for services that serve the same purpose. Methods of waste reduction tackle the amount of waste generated through waste prevention, recycling, or purchasing recycled and environmentally preferable products.
Oregon law specifies preferences for products that are recycled, are capable of being reused or recycled and are safer and less hazardous. DAS statewide policy (refer to 107-009-0080-PO) describes methods an agency can use to procure safer products and provides an expansive list of resources that an agency can use to implement a sound program around sustainability in procurement.
Safer alternatives to toxic chemicals are products that comply with
specified sustainability criteria and usually have an identification
label. The sustainability criteria are not standardized, and there are
numerous certifications and claims in the marketplace. The most robust
and credible ones are those independently verified through third parties
(“third party certifications”).
An agency can either seek a safe product certification through a
third-party or obtain assurance based on another agency’s third-party
certification. An agency should not accept a supplier or manufacturer’s
self-certification unless the agency exercises due diligence to verify
manufacturer’s claims, specifically those that raise serious
environmental or health concerns about risks of injury to health and the
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a list
of specifications, standards and eco-labels that they have deemed
trustworthy for distinguishing environmentally sustainable products.
Although limited in scope, the list is a credible resource for
identifying environmentally sustainable products.
An agency must use DAS Statewide Price Agreements according to the Buy Decision described in Determine Procurement Method
Some of these price agreements satisfy state requirements for procuring
safer alternatives to toxic chemicals. For example, DAS mandatory price
agreements for janitorial and industrial products that meet DAS “green
chemistry” requirements are in place. Information about these price
agreements is available on ORPIN.
A procuring agency must develop specifications that seek to promote
optimal value and suitability for the purposes intended, and to
reasonably encourage competition in satisfying the agency’s needs (refer
to ORS 279B.205).
Open market specifications must include in its criteria the
mandatory and discretionary requirements for sustainable products
described in the next section. Additionally, to evaluate the
environmental burdens of a product, an agency can specify a life cycle
cost analysis as a requirement in its solicitation documents.