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Environmentally Preferred Purchasing

Buy Green, Save Green

Buying green helps state agencies and local governments save money while protecting the environment and human health. This website provides many examples of greener products that are less expensive, cost neutral or save money during operations.

Green purchasing (EPP), also known as environmentally preferable or sustainable purchasing, is the procurement of goods and services that cause less harm to humans and the environment than competing goods and services that serve the same purpose. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance or disposal of the product or service.

Many green products cost the same or less than conventional products, and perform as well or better.

Green products can help your agency save money in multiple ways, as they frequently:
  • Are price neutral.
  • Offer energy and water savings.
  • Reduce maintenance costs.
  • Offer greater durability and lower replacement costs.
  • Eliminate or reduce solid waste haulage fees.
  • Lower hazardous materials management and reporting costs.
  • Reduce injuries and health hazard management costs.
  • Reduce purchases overall.
There are some products, such as 100% recycled content paper, where the purchase price of greener products is higher. Some jurisdictions have addressed this by cutting paper usage to fund purchases of the 100% recycled content paper. For example, the City of Seattle cut paper purchases by 30% to recoup the cost of switching to 100% recycled content paper.

Learn how Ecology's Re-use Center saves money and resources

Another way to buy green is to buy less. Many agencies operate reuse centers for office supplies, furniture, and other items that save significantly on purchasing, waste disposal and procurement staff costs. Read Ecology's Re-used Office Supplies and Furniture fact sheet to learn more.

Not buying at all is another option. An example is the purchase of bottled water, which causes environmental waste and haulage costs, while costing hundreds of times more than municipal water. In 2008, Clark County saved $15,000 by discontinuing bottled water purchases.

Some jurisdictions find that renting, borrowing and sharing equipment and services is an effective way to save dollars.

Cooperative contracts are another way to reduce costs through the power of joint purchasing.

Since government purchasing represents 20% of Gross Domestic Product and multi-year contracts, government bidding processes are a great opportunity to push manufacturers and vendors to provide safer products and disclose product ingredients. This demand for green products can lead to better pricing and supply. For example, government purchasing has driven down the price of 100% recycled content office paper significantly.

For Buy Green technical assistance, contact:

Tina Simcich
Email: tina.simcich@ecy.wa.gov
360. 407.7517