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Green Purchasing Policy

Villages, towns and small cities spend billions of dollars every year purchasing a variety of supplies, products and services. This gives them enormous market power, and the ability to drive change with concerted action.

This begins with a written policy adopted by the local municipality that sets out its principles on a number of procurement-related issues. These include the total lifecycle costs of products from cradle to grave, the sustainability of the materials used to produce the product, the recyclability of the product or its component parts, the costs of transportation and

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​packaging, the environmental impacts of its manufacture, use and disposal, and its potential health impacts on employees, residents and wildlife.

Green purchasing is complicated by the optional nature of manufacturers' disclosure agreements and by the lack of consensus or a legal definition of what constitutes a "green" product. What has emerged over the past few years is a patchwork of overlapping standards and purchasing guidelines. We strongly recommend that every municipality join forces with others in a green purchasing network. 

Santa Monica,CA has been pro-active in establishing green purchasing guidelines since the 1990s.  The guidelines touch on the following: toxic use reduction, reduced emissions, and recycled paper and vegetable-based printing ink, among others.

Normal, IL which has a Purchasing Policy Manual that stresses the purchasing of environmentally-preferable products that are recyclable, have a minimal amount of toxic content, are energy efficient, and eliminate the environmental footprint of the town. 

As part of their purchasing policy, Banff, Alberta considers the following: the location of the product purchased, the product’s recyclability, and its effect on the reduction of water and energy consumption.


The EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program's database includes green contract language and specifications, voluntary standards and guidelines, and other practical information.

The National Association of State Procurement Officials has created a very detailed Green Purchasing Guide to help municipal officials establish effective green purchasing programs.

The Maryland Green Purchasing Committee provides education and training regarding best green purchasing practices.

Sustainable Jersey encourages communities in the state of New Jersey to establish effective green purchasing programs.


[1] Green, K. W., et al. (2012). Green supply chain management practices: Impact on performance. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 17(3), 290-305. 

[2] Fischer, E. A. (2010). Green Procurement: Overview and Issues for Congress (Rep.). Washington D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 4-44.

[3] Min, H., & Kim, I. (2012). Green supply chain research: Past, present, and future. Logistics Research, 4(1-2), 39-47. 

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