Sustainable Purchasing Guide

Avoiding Toxic Chemicals and Protecting Health in Procurement

How to incorporate the reduction of chemicals of concern in municipal procurement.

This directory offers guidance in setting goals and metrics for a sustainable procurement program with a specific focus on environmental health, and provides guidance for benchmarking progress, as well as resources and case studies. This directory is intended for local government leadership, procurement, and sustainability staff. 

Working toward the reduction of chemicals of concern in products and services should receive more attention in sustainability initiatives. Chemical contamination represents a serious threat to people and the resources on which all life depends. A focus on chemical contamination is critical to protect health and the environment, save resources and reduce liability. 

A Note on Goals and Metrics

This document sets ambitious goals across multiple product categories. The goals are technically achievable, but we expect municipalities may choose to set interim goals and benchmarks. Goal-setting is important to measuring progress and tracking improvement. Best practice is to set goals for continuous improvement over time in each area of activity, and to report annually on progress. 

For each goal, we urge municipalities to adopt metrics that allow for easy tracking. For example, the goal for safer disinfection products is to achieve 100% of spend on safer disinfection products. A possible metric might be: Percent spend on safer disinfection products compared to total spend on all disinfection products. 

Third-party Certification Summary Chart

This chart is modified from one developed by the State of Maryland (Maryland Green Purchasing Annual Report FY 2020) and summarizes credible third party certified green labels in different product categories. These labels are a good starting point, but additional criteria often must be considered to evaluate the sustainability of a product. Please see the Ecology Center’s Resource Guide to Third-party Certifications and Eco-labels and the content below for more information. 

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