How to Develop Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Policies

How to Develop Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Policies

The primary purpose of EPP policies is to allow and encourage consideration of the potential environmental and public health impacts of products when making purchases. Such policies layout general guidelines about how those factors that make a product “green” may be considered in purchasing decisions and may also include specifications for commonly purchased items as a guide for purchasing managers.

These policies are important because often you can make progress toward sustainability goals by changing supplies and equipment you purchase. Some changes are simple, like choosing copy paper with a higher recycled content or replacing light fixtures with more energy efficient bulbs, but sometimes the environmental benefits of one choice over another is not so obvious. You may have options that require changing to a new process or piece of equipment, which means up-front investment of capital and training but results in reduction of toxins or energy use. EPP policies guide your organization as it works to identify the best options for meeting its sustainability goals and helps it procure them.

The purchasing department is best suited to lead development of your own EPP policies. Engage multiple departments for insights to prioritize products that will yield the biggest impact in your organization and to develop specifications that enable you to purchase greener items without breaking the bank. Look for best practices and sample policies from your peer institutions, colleges and universities, and state governments.

Decide on your EPP goals. For example, a Northeast Recycling Council, Inc. study found that state EPP programs often identified goals such as:

  • Improve worker health and safety.
  • Reduce costs.
  • Promote EPP product and services market development.
  • Reduce its impact on the environment.
  • Be a model for other agencies, departments, and the general public.

Providing general guidelines for all purchases reminds purchasing managers to consider greener features and can give guidance about how those features may be prioritized with other factors, such as cost. Many EPP policies allow greener options to be selected if they can be procured with up to 5-10% additional cost compared to the less green option. This policy builds the market for greener choices until economies of scale and competition bring the price down. To save time across the organization, your purchasing department or EPP committee may develop product specifications that incorporate green features for commonly purchased items, such as paper, electronics, common medical supplies and other high quantity purchases.

Communicate with suppliers as you develop your specifications. This will help you develop specifications that are reasonable within your market and also let them know that green features are important to you as a customer. When customers ask for a particular feature, such as a greener option, it helps the supplier make the business case for it so more options become available. It is also helpful to communicate your EPP policies to suppliers so they can be ready to fulfill your needs when you are ready to make new purchases.

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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