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.
Additional laws and executive orders created since 2001 are advancing sustainable procurement practices in Oregon.
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 Plan stage
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.
This section provides details for when an agency must use or consider each preference provision for sustainable procurement. Consider the following statutory requirements, where applicable:
The definition of recycled material is any material that would
otherwise be a useless, unwanted or discarded material except for the
fact that the material still has useful physical or chemical properties
after serving a specific purpose and can, therefore, be reused or
recycled. Recycled products are all materials, goods and supplies where
the percent of total weight meets both of the following criteria:
- More than 50 percent total weight consists of secondary and post-consumer waste.
- More than 10 percent total weight consists of post-consumer waste.
Apart from the requirement of a procuring agency to award a
contract to the lowest or best offer, and according to ORS 279A.125, a
procuring agency must give preference to products manufactured from
recycled materials when its uses the Competitive Sealed Bidding or
Competitive Sealed Proposal procurement method (refer to OAR
To be eligible for the preference, the supplier must:
Additionally, the product offered by the supplier must meet all of the following four criteria:
- Certify the percent of recycled material and the post-consumer and secondary waste content in the product offered.
- Indicate which products offered contain verifiable recycled materials.
- The recycled product is available.
- The recycled product meets applicable standards.
- The recycled product can be substituted for a comparable non-recycled product.
- The recycled product’s costs do not exceed the costs of non-recycled
products by more than five percent or a higher percentage if a written
determination is made by the procuring agency and detailed in the
Contracts including products manufactured from recycled materials
must include appropriate clauses that allow for inspection, audits,
plant visits, invoice examination, laboratory analysis, and other
documents, as deemed necessary.
This clause allows an agency to confirm that the product meets
supplier-certified percentages of recycled materials, post-consumer and
secondary waste stated in its offer. If an agency finds that the product
fails to meet the certified levels, state reimbursement or contract
termination can result.
State law (ORS 279B.025) requires that agencies
establish procurement practices that ensure, to the maximum extent
economically feasible, the procurement of goods that may be recycled or
reused when discarded.
State rule (OAR 125-246-0324) promotes the use of recyclable or biodegradable products for food service and packaging.
A recycled paper product must meet either one of the following criteria:
- 50 percent of its fiber weight consisting of secondary waste materials.
- 25 percent of its fiber weight consisting of post-consumer waste.
State law requires that no less than 35 percent of state agency
procurements of paper products may be from recycled paper products
(refer to ORS 279A.155), which include food service and food packaging
that are 100% paper or paper products (refer to OAR 125-246-0324).
Recycled oil is oil that has been prepared for reuse as a petroleum
product by refining, re-refining, reclaiming, reprocessing or other
means, if the preparation or use is operationally safe, environmentally
sound and complies with all laws and regulations. State law (refer to
ORS 279B.240) requires that procurement specifications for lubricating
oil and industrial oil must allow for the consideration of recycled oils
and may not require that oils be manufactured from virgin materials.
State law (ORS 279B.275) requires that specifications encourage the
procurement of products containing recycled PETE, which refers to
post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate material, as well as other
recycled plastic resins, provided similarities in quality and price
exist between recycled PETE products and products not qualifying as
recycled PETE products.
State law (ORS 279B.280) requires that specifications encourage the
use of recycled products whenever economically feasible, if the quality
of a recycled product is functionally equal to the same product
manufactured with virgin resources, including but not limited to:
- Recycled paper.
- Recycled oil.
- Recycled PETE products.
All procurement specifications must encourage the procurement of
recycled products, except for specifications that preserve public health
State law (ORS 279C.510) provides that every public improvement
contract for demolition must contain a condition requiring the
contractor to salvage or recycle construction and demolition debris, if
feasible and cost-effective.
State law (ORS 279B.225) provides that every public contract for lawn and landscape maintenance
must contain a condition requiring the contractor to salvage, recycle,
compost or mulch yard waste material at an approved site, if feasible
DAS Statewide Policy 107-009-0080-PO gives priority to less toxic, safer products, which is required by EO 12-05. At a minimum, a solicitation must require that the Toxics Focus List , maintained by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), be used for identification of Chemicals of Concern.
State law (ORS 279B.0250) requires agencies to procure electronic
products in a manner that considers the impact of the electronic
products upon the environment and public health, in addition to
consideration of economic and community interests, according to goals of
sustainability. Considerations include, but are not limited to the
procurement of electronic products that (refer to OAR 125-247-0165):
- May be recycled or reused when discarded.
- Meet national certifications for green and sustainable practices.
- Promote toxic use reduction.
- Reduce or eliminate the use of harmful chemicals such as lead and mercury.
DAS Statewide Policy 107-011-050_PR adopts the performance
standards used by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool
(EPEAT) and directs agencies in the acquisition and disposition of
The policy objectives include:
- Preventing hazardous materials from entering the waste stream.
- Considering the "end-of-life" cost in the overall cost of acquiring electronic equipment.
- Maximizing the re-use of all universal waste and materials contained in or used in electronic equipment.
- Encouraging the design and manufacture of new electronic equipment with re-use in mind.
- Refurbishing electronic equipment for re-use with minimal energy consumption.
- Preventing the release of sensitive or protected information from the state's control.
A procurement professional must review these requirements; determine which apply, and incorporate appropriate specifications and criteria in the solicitation document to evaluate supplier responsiveness to the state’s sustainability requirements. Refer to Terms and Definitions
for definitions of terms used in this section.