Environmental Purchasing Policies for Government Healthcare Facilities

Environmental Purchasing Policies for Government Healthcare Facilities

New York State government healthcare facilities have a tool that supports their sustainability goals: Executive Order No. 4 of 2008 that established a State Green Procurement and Agency Sustainability Program. With direction from this executive order, the administration established a sustainability and green procurement committee. That group developed green procurement specifications and lists that guide purchases to minimize potential impacts on the environment and public health. Many states have similar policies and programs that allow or require agencies to consider potential environmental and public health impacts of their purchases.

Environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) began in the 1990’s at the federal level, enabling federal agencies to serve as a model for reducing waste and other environmental impacts of its operations through its purchases. As a major consumer of office paper, the federal government’s recycled-content standards set through its EPP policies enabled the paper industry to make necessary technology investments for production of recycled content paper. What was once rare – office paper with 30% recycled content – is now a baseline. This industry change reduced the numbers of trees cut down annually and produced a domestic market for materials collected in municipal and commercial recycling programs.

State and local agency EPP policies also have positive environmental and economic benefits. New York’s program focuses on commodities, services and technologies that will:

(a) reduce or eliminate the health and environmental risks from the use or release of toxic substances; (b) minimize risks of the discharge of pollutants into the environment; (c) minimize the volume and toxicity of packaging; (d) maximize the use of recycled content and sustainably managed renewable resources; and (e) provide other environmental and health benefits.

The program established and regularly updates purchasing specifications for commonly purchased items. State agencies and authorities are required to establish a Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship Program “to reduce the public health and environmental impacts of the activities and operations of the agency or authority.” Many states allow their agencies to spend more on products with recycled content or environmental benefits. For example, in New York, agencies may spend up to 10% more on recycled content products and up to 15% more on products in which more than 50% of the recycled material came from New York waste.

Here at Healthcare Hub, we work hard to bring you options that fit common EPP policies and help you meet your sustainability goals. Contact us if you have questions about how our products meet your environmental preferences or need help with environmental specification language for products we supply.

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