6 Steps to Environmentally Responsible Purchasing

1. Environmentally Responsible Purchasing Basics

Environmentally Reponsible Purchasing is defined by U.S. Executive Order 12873 as, products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or 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.

2. Prioritize your efforts

Given time, financial and other constraints not every purchase can be a Green purchase. Concentrate initial efforts on the most frequently purchased products and services or those with the greatest environmental impact. Frequently purchased items at the University include office supplies, such as paper, pens, computers, etc. Purchases that have the highest potential for environmental impact include food, vehicles and office equipment.

3. Evaluate environmental impacts of purchases

The University of Delaware's Environmentally Responsible Purchasing Guidelines call for a balance between performance, price, availability, requirements of the end user and environmental considerations. Products and services can have a range of environmental impacts, and it is important to gain an understanding of how the product or service affects the environment. Does the product/service help conserve natural resources? Does the product minimize pollution through energy efficiency or waste prevention? Does the product contain minimal packaging or have high amounts of recycled content? Can the product be easily recycled and is it durable?

4. Consider the life-cycle of the product

Ask the question: What are the environmental impacts of a particular product from production to disposal? This involves considering the environmental impacts during manufacturing, transportation, use and disposal of a product or service.

5. Utilize outside resources to identify alternatives

Blue Hen Market enables individuals to identify environmentally preferable products by punching out to the websites of University-identified suppliers. However, when time permits, utilize outside resources to identify environmentally preferable products that generate cost savings and which have less severe impacts on the environment. Organizations and government agencies certify and list products and services that are environmentally preferable. This can eliminate time evaluating products and services. These organizations include the Environmental Protection Agency, GreenSeal, GreenGuard, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, and Scientific Certification Systems.

6. Ensure the product is practicable

By practicable, the University means that the performance of the product is satisfactory, the price is reasonable and the product is available.