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Green Purchasing - Sustainability

"Sustainability" refers to the ability of a production or harvesting process to continue indefinitely because its source is infinitely renewable. There is no legal definition of the terms sustainable, green, natural or renewable, so purchasers must use caution. 

Because of the non-renewability of petroleum resources, many products purchased by municipalities are marketed as "bio-based."
This is generally understood to mean commercial or industrial products in which more than 50% of the ingredients (other than water) are sourced from plant, animal, mineral, marine or forestry materials.


The Forest Stewardship Council is a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world's forests. FSC sets standards for building materials and paper.

The International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) is a non-profit organization offering webinars, online courses, a sustainability professional certification and the ISSP Sustainability Professional Certification Program to its members. 

The USDA's Bio-Preferred web site is a comprehensive source of information on bio-based materials and products.


[1] Nidumolu, R., et al. (2013). Why sustainability is now the key driver of innovation. IEEE Engineering Management Review, 41(2), 30-37.

[2] Koutsimanis, G., et al. (2012). Influences of packaging attributes on consumer purchase decisions for fresh produce. Appetite, 59(2), 270-280.

[3] Kim, S., & Dale, B. E. (2009). Regional variations in greenhouse gas emissions of biobased products in the United States—corn-based ethanol and soybean oil. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 14(6), 540-546. 

[4] Whitfield, M. B., et al. (2012). Processing of materials derived from sweet sorghum for biobased products. Industrial Crops and Products, 37(1), 362-375.

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