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Sustainable Marketplace: Greener Products and Services

About the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program

EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program (EPP) helps federal agencies procure greener products and services and harness federal purchasing power to green markets. 

The program started in 1993 after the signing of Executive Order 12873, and was reaffirmed by Executive Order 13693. The Pollution Prevention Act also requires EPA to “identify opportunities to use Federal procurement to encourage source reduction,” and Federal Acquisition Regulations Part 23.703 state that Agencies must “Maximize the utilization of environmentally preferable products and services (based on EPA-issued guidance)”.

Environmentally preferable means "products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose," according to the Implementing Instructions for Executive Order 13693. This comparison applies to raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal.

The EPP Program has launched and managed several initiatives to help meet its objectives, including: EPEAT, the Federal Electronics Challenge, and the EPA Green Building Workgroup.  The program also coordinates EPA engagement in development of product environmental performance standards, which help purchasers identify greener products and services, and drive improved environmental performance of products and services.

The EPP program is responsible for significant environmental results.  There are now over 647 million EPEAT-registered electronics purchased globally since 2006. Purchasing EPEAT registered electronics will result in the reduction of more than 463,000 metric tons of hazardous waste, the elimination of enough mercury to fill 3.5 million fever thermometers, and will reduce solid waste by the equivalent of 164,000 U.S. households’ annual waste. The FEC program has since ended, but in 2013 alone, the program helped to reduce 73, 681 metric tons of GHG emissions.

EPA’s final guidance on EPP highlights five guiding principles:

  • Environment + Price + Performance = EPP
    (Include environmental considerations as part of the normal purchasing process.)
  • Pollution Prevention
    (Emphasize pollution prevention as part of the purchasing process.)
  • Life Cycle Perspective/Multiple Attributes
    (Examine multiple environmental attributes throughout the product and service's life cycle.)
  • Comparison of Environmental Impacts
    (Compare environmental impacts when selecting products and services.)
  • Environmental Performance Information
    (Collect accurate and meaningful environmental information about environmental performance of products and services.)