Good Choices

STEP 2. Creating a Policy

Audience: Procurement Professionals, Sustainability Professionals, Environmental Advocates, Community Members and Leaders

A robust sustainable procurement policy will serve as the foundation for state or local governments taking action on safer chemicals, climate change, social equity, etc. through their purchasing decisions. Having a statutory or administrative policy means that there is more accountability and resources available for implementation. Our focus is on safer chemicals and products, but a good sustainable procurement policy will address a comprehensive set of environmental, social, and governance topics.


Model Sustainable Purchasing Guides and Toolkits

A number of organizations have created model toolkits or guides to help you develop an excellent sustainable procurement policy. NASPO's Green Purchasing Guide and USDN and RPN's Sustainable Procurement Playbook for Cities are a great place to start learning more about developing your policy. 

NASPO Green Purchasing Guide
USDN and RPN - The Buck Starts Here: Sustainable Procurement Playbook for Cities

Model City-Level Policies

City of Ann Arbor, MI - Revised - 2019 Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy

  • This policy focuses on purchasing products that meet a wide array of sustainable criteria including waste reduction, energy efficiency, and products safe for people and the environment.
  • Best Practice: Strong language specifying key chemicals of concern to avoid. Including per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), flame retardants, phthalates, heavy metals and more. This policy prohibits the purchase of single-use plastics. 

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City of Portland - Sustainable Procurement Policy 2018 Update

  • Reduce exposure of Substances of (Very) High Concern to people & environment.  
  • Meet third-party leadership standards for less-toxic and low-emitting products for interior finishes, interior cleaning and maintenance products, and electronics products. 
  • Best practice: Request product ingredient and hazard screening assessment disclosure from manufacturers. Use screenings to identify and select products and substances that do not contain or generate SVHCs/SHCs, asthmagens, or respiratory irritants throughout their life cycle. 

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City of San Francisco Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Ordinance

The City of San Francisco has developed a very strong sustainable procurement policy and a tremendous amount of excellent specifications. This policy and its specifications focus on a number of product categories in which purchasers can avoid toxic chemicals, these include:

Best practice: Approved green product list

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Model State-Level Policies 

State of New York

New York’s Executive Order No. 4 (2008) Established an Interagency Committee on Sustainability and Green Procurement which works to develop sustainable specifications and procurement guides for contacts that state agencies use for products and services. The policy also requires state agencies to develop and implement sustainability programs to set goals and to designate a Green Procurement Coordinator to train their colleagues and report out on their agency’s progress on an annual basis. 

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State of Minnesota

Minnesota’s policy establishes sustainability goals for all Minnesota state agencies. The state sets a bold sustainable procurement goal of having 25 percent of the state’s total spend on priority contracts be sustainable purchases by 2025. The state also created an Office of Enterprise Sustainability to aid agencies in meeting their sustainability goals, and track and report on progress. 

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State of Massachusetts

Massachusetts’ Environmentally Preferable Procurement (EPP) Program is a model because of the comprehensive nature of the policy. Under the EPP the Commonwealth has developed a guide to help state agencies find sustainable products on their statewide price agreements. They also set forth clear roles and responsibilities for EPP across agencies and have established an Environmental Purchasing Advisory Committee and Task Force. The Commonwealth also releases annual progress reports on green procurement goals. 

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Sustainable Purchasing Policies Webinar

Webinar by Responsible Purchasing Network on creating a Sustainable Purchasing Policy and How the Cities of Portland, OR and Santa Monica, CA are implementing their policies.