Sample Contract Language for Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

Including language in your purchasing RFPs and contracts that clearly communicates your organization’s commitment to sustainability goals is a good way to encourage vendors to offer more sustainable products and services. Several examples of such contract language are given below.

Manufacturer Take-Back

Require proof of reuse or recycling (make sure it’s responsible recycling). Consider including language such as this from Section 1610 (Electronic waste) of State of Maine Title 38, Chapter 16: Sale of Consumer Products Affecting the Environment:

All vendors of electronic devices . . . shall provide take-back and management services for their products at the end of life of those products. Vendors shall provide assurances that these services will operate in compliance with all applicable environmental laws. Purchasing preference must be given to electronic devices that incorporate design for the preservation of the environment.

Packaging Considerations

Require that your suppliers use recycled or biodegradable packaging materials. This language from Alameda County, California, is an example:

It is desirable that all corrugated packaging contain a minimum of 35 percent post-consumer recycled content and provide certification from the carton manufacturer/supplier to verify the actual percentage of recycled content.

Green Cleaning

Specify desired characteristics for cleaning products. The following language has been adapted from the U.S. Department of Interior Custodial RFP:

An offered cleaning product that presents the following five characteristics to some verifiable or demonstrable degree will receive more favorable consideration than other products, assuming the product otherwise meets efficacy requirements:
  • Minimizes skin, eye, and respiratory irritation.
  • Exhibits partial or complete biodegradability.
  • Avoids unnecessary additives, including dyes and fragrances.
  • Is packaged in recyclable or reusable containers, minimizing the use of non-recyclable packaging materials.
  • Meets or exceeds other relevant standards in whole or in part (e.g., Green Seal standards).

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