Adopt a facility-wide environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) policy.
All PIM content was independently developed and reviewed to be vendor-, product-, and service provider-neutral.
Environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) is the purchase of products and services whose environmental impacts have been considered and found to be less damaging to the environment, human health, and the bottom line when compared to competing products and services. EPP considers both the total cost of ownership1 and life-cycle costing1 approach to assess the impact of a particular product or service on the organization.
Project Talking Points
- One policy does not fit all – for a policy to be effective, it must reflect the goals of the organization and be consistent with its operating principles. Take time to customize your policy and have it approved at the highest level possible.
- EPP should enhance or complement any other policies in place that already cover some of the aspects of the proposed environmentally preferable purchasing policy.
- Principles of EPP are applied to all major procurement decisions and weighed with other quality, service, and life cycle cost analysis with preference given to products that support these sustainability practices.
- Establishing and promoting an EPP policy can have significant marketing and public relations value for your healthcare facility.
- How we buy influences what we waste. Nearly every waste material that leaves a hospital arrives through the purchasing process.
- Purchasing departments are, therefore, a central quantifiable and standard-setting area for almost every product or service consumed in a hospital.
- Supply chain pressure is trending to more data capture with medical supply chain scorecards becoming best practices.
Triple Bottom Line Benefits
Cost savings: By carefully selecting goods and services, hospitals can reduce costs with lower purchase prices or changes that reduce or eliminate waste disposal, hazardous waste, and/or the need for worker safety measures. Downstream corrections of environmental or occupational health issues are almost always more costly – in terms of dollars, labor, technical complexity, and adverse publicity – than prevention.
Environmental benefits: An intention of an EPP policy is to ultimately reduce overall impacts of projects and services on the environment. The impacts are multi-faceted and can include fewer resources used to manufacture and transport materials, less waste in landfills, and fewer toxics released into the air, soil, and water. Wherever possible, try to quantify and report on both hard and soft benefits.
Health and safety benefits include a healthier environment for patients, workers, and employees through reduced exposure to hazardous substances (products such as cleaners, solvents, and paints). An EPP policy is effectively “preventive medicine” that promotes the health of the environment, reducing negative environmental or health effects related to products before they occur.
Additionally, instituting and EPP policy/program in your facility creates opportunities for positive publicity and promotion in the community.
Quality and Outcomes: Metrics are in development. If you have suggestions, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
Contracts for products or services should contain EPP specifications specific to that item. Please go to that specific performance improvement measure (e.g., Office Supplies, Recycling, etc.) for contract language suggestions listed in the “How To” section of the specific product or service
- Identify key players and other resources who need who need to be involved/consulted on the drafting of the policy.
- Define stakeholders. Consider designating a representative on each value analysis committee who, for example, represents the EPP position. Define a commitment to what it means to be a stakeholder.
- Get input early from end-users and all those who will be directly and indirectly affected by the policy.
- Develop a vision statement or charter from leadership that outlines core EPP principles.
- Get buy-in or support from the top.
- EPP policy should reflect a facility’s unique needs and over arching organization-wide sustainability objectives. (See the “Specific Inclusions” area below for additional guidance on shaping the policy, and the Resources area for adaptable EPP policies in MS Word.)
Example of environmental policy language:
- GOAL: XYZ Health System is committed to the principles of Environmentally Preferred Purchasing (EPP) in support of XYZ Health System mission to improve the health of our patients, families, staff, and communities we serve.
- POLICY: Principles of Environmentally Preferred Purchasing (EPP) will be applied to all major procurement decisions. XYZ Health System will evaluate the environmental impacts (e.g., waste, toxicity) of products and services in an effort to select healthy, safe, environmentally preferable, and sustainable products and services. XYZ Health System staff involved with product selection will communicate to the marketplace that XYZ Health System expects suppliers to continuously develop price competitive products that conform to our EPP principles.
- Define policy scope: i.e. which product/service groups and which departments should be covered.
- Develop and prioritize a list of target EPP products and services areas.
- GOALS: set specific (what you want to happen), measurable (if you can’t measure, you can’t manage), attainable (that your organization can reach), realistic (doable), timely and tangible goals (setting a timeline shows commitment).
- Educate employees about EPP program management that supports the EPP principles agreed to so that everyone is working under the same definition of what should and should not be purchased.
- Identify and promote EPP products already under contract (GPO or private), identify the field in your supply chain data where a product can be tagged as EPP.
- Collaborate with your Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) and hospital contract team to identify products up for contract renewal and renegotiate using a medical sustainability scorecard which helps determine the degree of sustainability.
- Develop a plan to communicate the policy to the main stakeholder groups, educate and gain their acceptance.
- Implement the policy with training and ongoing communication.
- Publicize and promote internally and externally.
Your EPP policy can contain language addressing packaging, energy, water, transportation, and materials of concern, or any specific issue that is important to your organization. Below are specific samples of language for packaging and materials of concern.
- Specify preference for packaging that:
- Minimizes packaging, using less material.
- Encourages recycled-content and non-toxic content in the packaging components.
- Sample language to increase recycled content in RFPs
“It is desirable that all corrugated packaging contain a minimum of 35% postconsumer recycled content and provide certification from the carton manufacturer/supplier to verify the actual percentage of recycled content.”
- Is readily recyclable.
- Minimizes or eliminate plastic packaging.
- Is durable, reusable packaging.
- Includes packaging take-back provisions in product contracts wherever possible.
- Asks vendors to deliver supplies in reusable plastic totes, or encourage them to show how they can help minimize packaging.
- Includes reusable pallets, and pallet-take-back.
Materials of Concern:
Include a materials-of-concern list in purchasing contract specifications, including but not limited to the following:
- Persistent bio-accumulative toxic (PBTs) compounds
- Carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxic chemicals
- Halogenated flame retardants
- Phthalates, e.g. plasticizer DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- EPA Resource Conservation Recovery Act listed hazardous chemicals
Regularly review the list of products that contain materials for concern for reduction and/or elimination.
Kaiser Permanente’s Sustainability Scorecard (Generation I and II) requires suppliers to provide and be evaluated on the sustainability of their medical equipment and products used in hospitals, medical offices, and other facilities. The scorecard outlines important environmental criteria and asks about a company’s environmental commitment.
If you have an ROI tool, calculator, or similar resources to share, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
Regulations, Codes and Standards, Policies
- Federal government “Executive Orders” dictate that federal agencies, including military and other government hospitals, follow specific EPP specifications (see Compliance Considerations on the Roadmap site). While executive orders put forth mandates that might not be required for your facility, valuable guidance and experience can be gained from public sector experiences.
- Some countries introduce laws designed to encourage reduced packaging and greater recycling of packaging discards. Many of these countries require manufacturers to take back packaging discards or pay for their recycling. There are no federal packaging mandates of a similar nature in the United States. It should be noted, however, that state and local government concern about packaging waste continues to grow, while new containers emerge that complicate recycling.
Cross References: LEED
LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, Materials and Resources, Prerequisite 1, Sustainable Purchasing Policy
Cross References: GGHC
GGHC Operations Version 2.2, 2008 Revision, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, Credit 2.0 – Toxic Chemical Reduction in Purchasing: Policy/Structure Development, 1 Point
If you have any information or resources to contribute, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
Review sample EPP policy templates here to help model your own environmental purchasing objectives.
- Sample policy compiled by AHRMM Task Force
- Practice Green Health’s sample policies.
- Sample Healthcare EPP policy from CalRecycle (adaptable MS Word document).
- Group Purchasing Organization Novation advocates that environmental policy language include a materials of concern list. (review materials of concern in more detail in the How To section).
- The EPA provides extensive information to locate and evaluate information about green products and services, identify federal green buying requirements, calculate the costs and benefits of purchasing choices, and manage green purchasing processes, which can help shape your policy statement.
1From from Roadmap -
- Total cost of ownership. A total cost of ownership (TCO) approach attempts to include less apparent costs of ownership that are more likely to be overlooked. A TCO analysis requires factoring in soft-costs like additional compliance or insurance costs, employee health and safety issues, employee satisfaction, community support and associated value to public affairs, impacts on work practices, and the actual utilization and expected life of the product.
- Life cycle costs. When making product and service comparisons, purchasers can use a life cycle cost analysis (LCA) to include the environmental and social costs assignable to each and choose the least burdensome ones. LCA includes costs related to resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and use and disposal of materials throughout the supply chain process.
- Strategic Operations
- Environmental Health and Safety
- Waste Reduction
- Source Reduction
- Toxics Reduction
- Waste Minimization
- Purchasing/Materials Management/Supply Chain
- Comment, and please add information, tools, or additional resources you think should be added to the PIM.
- Write a case study or a PIM to contribute to the Roadmap (links are to instructions).