Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Guidelines

Purpose

Recognizing our impact as a major purchaser of goods and services, Duke University gives preference to environmentally friendly products whose quality, function, and cost are equal or superior to more traditional products. This policy will

  • conserve natural resources
  • minimize pollution 
  • reduce the use of water and energy 
  • eliminate or reduce environmental health hazards to workers and our community 
  • support strong recycling markets 
  • reduce materials that are landfilled 
  • increase the use and availability of environmentally preferable products 
  • reward vendors who reduce environmental impacts in their production and distribution systems or services 
  • create a model for successfully purchasing environmentally preferable products that encourages other purchasers in our community to adopt similar goals 
  • support locally produced goods and services 
  • educate ourselves, our vendors, and our end users

Definitions

Environmentally Preferable Product: A product that has a lesser or reduced negative effect on human health and the environment when compared to competing products that serve the same purpose. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal of the product. This term includes recyclable products, recycled products, and reusable products.
Life Cycle Analysis: The comprehensive examination of a product’s environmental and economic effects throughout its lifetime, including new material extraction, transportation, manufacturing, use, and disposal.
Practicable: Satisfactory in performance and available at a fair and reasonable price.
Post-consumer Content: The percentage of materials collected from end-users and recycled into the new product.
Recyclable Product: A product that, after its intended end use, can be demonstrably diverted from the University’s solid waste stream for use as a raw material in the manufacture of another product, preferably higher value uses.
Reusable Product: A product, such as a washable food or beverage container or a refillable ballpoint pen, that can be used several times for an intended use before being discarded.

Data Collection and Performance Reporting

For purposes of setting goals and evaluating the performance of the University’s green purchasing program, vendors may be requested to report the environmental attributes of their products.

Procurement and Supply Chain Management responsibilities:

  • Collaborate with vendors to design and implement a data collection system for tracking the environmental attributes of products
  • Compile records for the purpose of producing an annual summary of the University's environmentally responsible purchasing actions, and for evaluating the effectiveness of these actions in reducing the environmental impacts of University procurement 
  • Identify opportunities to educate end users about the impacts of their product choices

Priorities

  • Ensure the health and safety of workers and citizens
  • Support the Durham economy by purchasing goods and services from local vendors 
  • Procure goods and services that are environmentally friendly without compromising cost or quality
  • Comply with all local, state, and federal laws that govern our procurement activity

Areas of Focus

  1. Source Reduction
    Reducing unnecessary waste at the source allows the University to both mitigate the inefficient use of our natural resources and benefit economically from decreased handling and disposal costs.

    Procurement activity may include:

    • Institute practices that reduce waste, resulting in the purchase of fewer products whenever practicable and cost-effective, but without reducing safety or workplace quality
    • Purchase remanufactured products such as laser toner cartridges, tires, furniture, equipment and automotive parts whenever practicable, but without reducing safety, quality or effectiveness
    • Consider short-term and long-term costs in comparing product alternatives. Include evaluation of total costs expected during the time a product is owned, including, but not limited to, acquisition, extended warranties, operation, supplies, maintenance, disposal costs and expected lifetime compared to other alternatives
    • Purchase products that are durable, long lasting, reusable or refillable
    • Request that vendors eliminate packaging or use the minimum amount necessary for product protection to the greatest extent practicable
    • Request packaging that is reusable, recyclable or compostable when suitable uses and programs exist
    • Reuse pallets and packaging materials
    • Require that all equipment bought after the adoption of this Policy, when practicable, be compatible with products and services that provide source reduction benefits
  2. Recycled Content Products
    The University has made significant investments in developing a successful recycling system and recognizes that recycled content products are essential to the continuing viability of that recycling system, and for the foundation of an environmentally sound production system.

    Procurement activity may include:

    • Products for which the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has established minimum recycled content standard guidelines – such as printing paper, office paper, janitorial paper, construction, landscaping, transportation, vehicles, and non-paper office products – and which contain the highest post-consumer content practicable, but no less than the minimum recycled content standards established by the U.S. EPA Guidelines. 
    • Copiers and printers that can be used with recycled content products
    • Re-refined lubricating and industrial oil for use in vehicles and other equipment, as long as the product is certified by the American Petroleum Institute (API) as appropriate for use in such equipment 
    • Asphalt concrete, aggregate base or portland cement concrete for road construction projects that contains recycled, reusable or reground material
    • Recycled content transportation products including signs, cones, parking stops, delineators, and barricades
  3. Energy and Water Savings
    Recognizing that the generation of electricity is a major contributor to air pollution and global warming issues, and that clean water is a finite resource, the University values products that minimize the use of these valuable resources.

    Procurement activity may include:

    • Energy-efficient equipment with the most up-to-date energy efficiency functions, including, but not limited to, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. 
    • Efficient lighting with energy-efficient equipment
    • Products for which the U.S. EPA Energy Star certification is available and which meet Energy Star certification, when practicable. When Energy Star labels are not available, choose energy-efficient products that are in the upper 25% of energy efficiency as designated by the Federal Energy Management Program
    • Water-saving products.
  4. Landscaping
    Supporting low maintenance and environmentally sensitive landscapes minimizes the unnecessary use of fertilizers and water resources, therefore reducing the University’s impact on the natural environment.

    Procurement activity may include:

    • Employ sustainable landscape management techniques for design, construction and maintenance. These techniques include, but are not limited to, integrated pest management, grasscycling, drip irrigation, composting, and procurement and use of mulch and compost that give preference to those produced from regionally generated plant debris and/or food waste programs. 
    • Minimize waste by selecting plants that are appropriate to the microclimate, species that can grow to their natural size in the space allotted them; Place preference on native and drought-tolerant plants that require no or minimal watering once established 
    • Limit amount of impervious surfaces by procuring permeable substitutes such as permeable asphalt or pavers for walkways, patios and driveways
  5. Toxics and Pollution
    The use of toxics and the generation of pollution should be minimized to reduce risks to health, safety, and the environment.

    Procurement activity may include:

    • Refrain from procuring cleaning or disinfecting products (i.e. for janitorial or automotive use) containing carcinogens, mutagens, or teratogens. Chemicals to be avoided are listed by the U.S. EPA or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on the Toxics Release Inventory. 
    • Phase out chlorofluorocarbon-containing refrigerants, solvents and similar products. 
    • Procure readily biodegradable surfactants and detergents that do not contain phosphates. 
    • Maintain buildings and landscapes, manage pest problems through the application of prevention techniques and physical, mechanical and biological controls 
    • Procure products with the lowest amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), highest recycled content, and low or no formaldehyde in materials such as paint, carpeting, adhesives, furniture and casework.
    • Reduce or eliminate the use of products that contribute to the formation of dioxins and furans, including, but not limited to:
      •  Paper, paper products, and janitorial paper products that are bleached or processed with chlorine or chlorine derivatives
      • Products that use polyvinyl chloride (PVC), including, but not limited to, office binders, furniture, flooring,  and medical supplies
    • Procure products and equipment with no lead or mercury. For products containing lead or mercury, give preference to those with lower quantities of these metals and to vendors with established lead and mercury recovery programs. 
    • Consider vehicle procurement alternatives to diesel such as compressed natural gas, biobased fuels, hybrids, electric batteries, and fuel cells, as available.
  6. Forest Conservation
    The University has made significant investments in sustainable forestry, evident in the preservation of 7,000 acres of Duke Forest. That commitment extends to the purchase of wood products, in recognition of the valuable human and ecological health services provided by forests.

    Procurement activity may include:

    • Procure wood products such as lumber and paper that originate from forests harvested in an environmentally sustainable manner. Give preference to wood products that are certified to be sustainably harvested by a comprehensive, performance-based certification system. The certification system shall include independent third-party audits, with standards equivalent to, or stricter than, those of the Forest Stewardship Council certification. 
    • When practicable, procure locally, sustainably harvested wood.