Province of British Columbia,
Guidelines for Procurement of Environmentally responsible Products and Services
These guidelines have been developed as part of a Cabinet-directed BC Based Climate Change Action Plan to implement a long-term strategy that supports provincial economic, social and environmental priorities.
Core Policy Manual Policy Reference:
(6.3.1 Procurement Planning - policy 13)
Ministries are encouraged to follow the Guidelines for Procurement of Environmentally Responsible Products and Services.
Guidelines For Procurement of Environmentally Responsible Products and Services
These procurement guidelines are designed to encourage ministries to consider environmentally responsible products and services as part of their purchasing decisions. The objectives of these guidelines are:
- To provide an environmental role model for government procurement, by making it a priority to use environmentally responsible products and services, where feasible and cost effective.
- To increase demand for environmentally responsible products and services, which may ultimately enhance their quality and cost competitiveness.
- To continue to increase government's conservation of resources through the use of more reusable products, and products and services which require less energy and materials to produce or use.
- Where feasible and cost effective, the Government of British Columbia will acquire products and services that are environmentally responsible. Environmentally responsible products are those that reduce waste, improve energy efficiency, limit toxic by-products, contain recycled content or are reusable. Environmentally responsible services are those that employ environmental responsibility in their management, administration and operations.
- The substitution of environmentally sensitive products for more environmentally harmful products will increase as their usage becomes more prevalent and as they become more cost effective and of comparable quality to those products previously purchased.
- Where feasible and cost effective and where the products are compatible with individual ministry requirements, preference should be given to purchase of environmentally sensitive products and services.
- As part of prudent acquisition management, ministries should consider use of environmentally sensitive products and services on a trial basis to ensure performance and technical requirements are met, prior to making longer term purchasing commitments.
- Evaluation criteria specified in the solicitation document should consider the environmental impact over the life cycle of each product compared to the alternatives, by taking into account economic and environmental impact, production processes used, energy use, maintenance and disposal requirements.
- Evaluation criteria specified in a services solicitation document should consider a proponent's corporate environmental sustainability policy.
- Where they are cost effective and meet performance and technical standards, products certified under a relevant environmental labelling program may be specified in the solicitation document. Specific environmental technical requirements may also be included in product specifications.
Examples of information sources or programs:
- Environmental Choice Program
- Buy Green
- Green Building Materials Virtual Sample Room
- Energy Star
Ministries are encouraged to consult with Procurement Services Branch for more information on the procurement of environmentally sensitive products and services.
Procurement Planning Checklist for Products and Services Supporting Sustainable Environmental Management:
In order to reduce the environmental impact of an acquisition, this checklist has been developed to help ask the right questions at the planning stage of an acquisition.
Have other options for meeting the needs been explored, e.g.:
- Have both internal surplus and Asset Investment Recovery been checked to ensure no comparable product is available?
- Have the feasibility of short-term rental or sharing the product been investigated as alternatives to purchasing?
- Is the quantity requested appropriate and sure to be used?
- Will the product be used to the end of its useful life; if not, can it be easily reallocated?
Once it has been determined that a purchase should be made, there are a number of specific product characteristics that can help identify an environmentally responsible item. Users should be cautioned against products with unsubstantiated claims, and should look for statements such as the percentage of recycled content.
Is the product:
- Certified by the Environmental Choice Program or other program?
- Designed to minimize waste?
- Energy efficient (e.g., office equipment with a power-saving "sleep" mode)? If included in the EnerGuide labelling program, does it compare favourably to other labelled products in the same category?
- Less polluting during its use than competing products (e.g., non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners)?
- Free from hazardous ingredients that would require special disposal?
- Free from resources that come from environmentally sensitive regions (e.g., rainforests)?
- Free from banned and/or restricted substances (e.g., CFCs)?
- Manufactured from recycled materials, including a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content?
Is the product packaging:
- Designed to minimize waste (e.g., bulk packaging)?
- Reusable by the end-user?
- Accepted by the supplier for reuse, recycling or recovery?
- Recyclable locally?
- Made from recycled materials?
Operation, utilization and maintenance:
Is the product:
- Durable, with a long service life?
- Accompanied by clear and comprehensive operating instructions?
- Easy to maintain in good operating condition?
- Economical to repair?
- Easy to upgrade?
- Reusable or does it include reusable parts (e.g., reusable batteries)?
Can the product or its parts:
- Be reused or reallocated?
- Be resold through Asset Investment Recovery?
- Be returned to the supplier for reuse, recycling or recovery?
- Be contributed to a waste exchange program?
- Be recycled locally?
The relative importance of each of the above questions will vary from one product category to another. Be sure to advise your suppliers that you will be evaluating products according to these factors.
When Procurement Services, consider requiring your contractor to meet environmental standards.
Examples of Environmentally Preferable Product Categories:
- Recycled paper and paper products
- Remanufactured laser printer toner cartridges
- Re-refined lubricating and hydraulic oils
- Recycled plastic outdoor-wood substitutes
- Re-crushed cement concrete aggregate and asphalt
- Re-manufactured tires and products made from recycled tire rubber
- Paint that is re-manufactured, recycled, low VOC, low toxicity, non-oil based
- Cleaning products with lowered toxicity
- Energy saving products
- Alternate fuel and fuel efficient vehicles