A Green Success Story
In covering environmental purchasing topics ranging from recycled paper to AFV fleets, our “green” October issues have spotlighted many success stories. One that always comes to mind is King County, WA. The county’s commitment to environmental purchasing began in 1989 with the Recycled Product Procurement Policy that directed county agencies to purchase recycled material “whenever practicable.”
By 1995, the county’s goals were extended to include other environmentally preferable materials and processes. King County’s Environmental Purchasing Program (KCEPP) blossomed into a $5 million effort that saved $580,000 compared with the cost of replaced products last year.
Many factors contribute to the program’s success. By enabling agencies to use their own professional judgement to evaluate and adopt new opportunities, KCEPP has promoted countywide acceptance. KCEPP Managers, Eric Nelson and Karen Hamilton, provide information and technical assistance to help identify and evaluate economical and effective recycled and environmentally preferable products.
In 2003, King County purchases included remanufactured toner cartridges, re-refined antifreeze and motor oil (used by all county vehicles, including 1,200 Metro buses), low-VOC asphalt cold patch compound, plastic lumber, compost, shredded wood waste, tire-retreading services, and hybrid vehicles.
KCEPP also helps agencies find ways to use environmentally preferable products and processes in their work, and several initiatives resulted in saving time, money, and resources. The Green Building, Waste Reduction and Recycling, Air Quality, and Energy and Water Conservation Programs produced award-winning results last year.
The changing marketplace regularly presents new opportunities. Nelson and Hamilton encourage agencies to evaluate news products such as less toxic cleaning products, recycled content carpet, energy-efficient equipment, and low-toxicity pest-control products. The county is also incorporating sustainable building methods into construction.
The program aims to fundamentally change the procurement practices of the 13,000 employees of King County and its contractors. KCEPP helps agencies, vendors, users, and other jurisdictions understand the county’s Environmental Purchasing Policy requirements. Nelson and Hamilton’s proactive approach is changing the way agencies view green purchasing opportunities.
KCEPP keeps agencies up-to-date with educational seminars, Internet discussion groups, and the e-mail “Environmental Purchasing Bulletin.” Agencies will find KCEPP policies, tools, and resources; product experience; contract language and specifications; as well as environmental and recycling links on the EPP Web site: www.govinfo.bz/4355-264. I recommend that readers visit this informative site for resources and direction.
With two procurement professionals on staff who are dedicated to the cause of environmental purchasing, King County is sure to enjoy continued success.
For the many entities that do not have a dedicated EPP staff, there is a wealth of information available. For starters, check out www.govinfo.bz/4355-265, an all-inclusive site hosted by the Center for a New American Dream (CNAD). Visitors will find the Institutional Purchasing Program that helps incorporate environmental and human health considerations into their purchasing decisions.
By reading the Green Purchaser articles in each issue of Government Procurement, entities will learn that ” whenever practicable” is no longer an occasional occurrence,