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Session 3: How to Implement an EPP Program

Wednesday, July 16, 1997
2:45 - 4:00 pm



Speakers presented examples of innovative EPP programs from various levels of government, the process used to establish the EPP programs and their key components.

Speaker 1: Charlie Bravo, USPS

As the Manager of the Environmental Management Policy for the Postal Service, Mr. Bravo serves as a focal point for all policy on environmental issues for the organization. He joined the Postal Service in 1974 as an engineer where he was involved in environmental issues, facilities improvements, new facilities, and the Energy Investment Program. He represented the Universal Postal Union at the 18th Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environmental Programs.

USPS has implemented the following environmental initiatives:

USPS has found that use of recycled materials is usually more cost-effective on a per unit cost basis. USPS incorporates environmental considerations in its business planning process. One example is the 1997 building design standards. The Santa Barbara facility, for example, takes advantage of beneficial landscaping (i.e., using plants most suited to the local environment), which reduces landscape maintenance and water usage, saving a significant amount of money.

Speaker 2: Michael Barr, USPS

Considerations for a successful EPP Program include the following:

Four examples of implementing EPP at USPS:

  1. Office supplies and paper products. For copier paper, USPS issued a management instruction (via a Postal Bulletin) that allows post offices to buy recycled paper even if it is 10% more expensive than non-recycled paper. This 10% preference is built into specifications. USPS does not always purchase from GSA; in fact the majority of its paper purchases are from private industry directly. USPS sent GSA a letter to specifically buy recycled content with respect to postal policy.

    Postal products with recycled content include: Express and Priority Mail envelopes, boxes, and tubes; Tyvek Express and Priority Mail envelopes; and an automation compatible envelope made with recycled mail.

    USPS has also developed recycling lobby bins made of Gridcore, a cardboard and recycled mail material. 5,000 lobby bins have been ordered and USPS plans to market the bins to the federal government/GSA. USPS has also developed an interdepartmental envelope using recycled mail and also plans to market this product to GSA. USPS is also looking at pressure sensitive adhesives for postage stamp and label applications that do not act as contaminants in the recycling process.
  2. Chemicals, cleaning products, supplies. USPS has reduced or eliminated its use of 17 toxic chemicals in its operations, with virtual elimination by 1998. To accomplish this, USPS instituted quality assurance reviews and created an environmental products directory to assist in responsible purchasing decisions at post offices across the country. Training staff was also instrumental in reducing/eliminating the use of 17 toxic chemicals.
  3. Vehicular/transportation equipment and supplies. USPS has converted 7,000 vehicles to compressed natural gas, which involved infrastructure changes as well as conversions of existing vehicles and purchase of new vehicles. In addition, USPS fleet includes electric and methanol powered vehicles, with 100,000 vehicles running on re-refined oil. Specifications for re-refined oil stress performance, not material content.
  4. Building construction and renovation products. Green Building Design recommendations were made by an oversight committee. Facilities incorporated a majority of the recommendations into their documentation: building design standards; medium, small, StoreCADD designs; and master specification. USPS participated in a Green Building Initiative in Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX. USPS has set a goal of undertaking green building projects in each of USPS' 11 areas.

    In addition to building projects, USPS has undertaken the following energy-related projects in its facilities: LED Exit Sign Program (USPS purchased 20,000 units for its facilities, which will save a significant amount of money in energy savings as well as reduced maintenance time/labor); energy-efficient lighting; upgraded boilers and chillers; and use of natural gas.

Speaker 3: Eric Friedman, State of Massachusetts, Operation Services Division

OSD is the state's central purchasing office; the division writes specifications, establishes contracts, and is similar to GSA. The OSD seeks to incorporate other criteria besides recycled content into its EPP efforts.

Mr. Friedman laid out the following six-step process for implementing an EPP Program:

  1. Define your universe. OSD established a definition for its EPP effort which is very similar to the definition in the Executive Order, with an emphasis on minimizing waste, optimizing recycled content, and saving water.
  2. Start slowly. Identify a few priorities; don't "go for broke"; take your time; do your research first--the product needs to perform as well as be environmentally preferable! Pick efforts with a good chance of success, i.e., pick the low hanging fruit (e.g., require bids to be 2-sided copies, require the purchase of Energy Star computers, use soy inks when possible). Use tests or pilots as a way to start slowly and learn as you go. Mr. Friedman suggested that agencies conduct annual $40,000 pilots to test new products; the pilots encourage user participation at no risk and provides an opportunity to evaluate a new product before putting out a contract.
  3. Learn from experience. Use recycled product procurement network. Use feedback and flexibility to develop trust and credibility and to modify the program when necessary. You do not have to make a big leap to EPP. Give people choices, when appropriate (e.g., dual contracts for oil, paint, cleaners); at the same time, do not give people choices, when appropriate (e.g., recycled content paper, Energy Star computers). Use regulatory vehicles without regulating (e.g., Executive Order linked to voluntary compliance).
  4. Include users. Develop a planning process (procurement reform = diverse management teams). Allow for input by users from the beginning of the project. Be flexible when writing specs. Don't force participation. Lastly, give and ye shall receive.
  5. Rely on others' expertise. Take advantage of environmental agencies, research labs, vendors, etc.
  6. Market and reward. Let people know what you're doing. Educate and inform through fact sheets, guide to EPP, vendor fairs. Use higher ups (e.g., letters from Secretaries). Track your efforts. Reward participation through an awards program. Work toward institutionalization.

Speaker 4: Kelly Luck, Minnesota Office of Environmental Affairs

Ms. Luck's office tends to focus on solid waste issues; committed to pollution prevention, recycled content, and EPP.

Minnesota Office of Environmental Affairs conducted a cleaners project. The participants included the Department of Administration, which oversees all state purchasing contracts; a Cleaning Supplies Users Group, which was formed by the Administration to gain input into the contract process consisting of custodial and procurement staff from various state agencies; an environmental committee, formed to develop criteria and evaluate products' environmental impact; and a performance committee, formed to develop criteria and evaluate product efficacy.

The work group sought input from the users of cleaners, reviewed criteria set by national pioneers, and consulted with MN experts for local perspective. The work group conducted a pilot project with a non-profit and found that the environmentally preferable products were price competitive, caused fewer health problems (i.e., no dizziness).

Project goals included the following:

Project challenges include the complexity of the issues involved as both environmental criteria alternative cleaners continue to evolve. In addition, lack of consistent product information and continuing skepticism about "green" products provide additional challenges.

Speaker 5: Karl Weiss, Department of Defense

Mr. Weiss joined the Department of Defense in 1990 as a Contract Specialist with the Defense Fuel Supply Center. In 1995, implementation of Executive Order 12873 was added to his duties, making him responsible for oversight of DoD's recycling, affirmative procurement, and environmentally preferable purchasing programs. He represents Environmental Security on Integrated Process Teams that advise major weapons systems acquisition programs.

Dealing with acquisition reform as part of goal to modernize force and reduce life cycle costs.

Strategies being pursued by DOD to support these goals include:

DOD plans to introduce EPP into other procurement processes.

Questions & Answers:

Q: What are some ways to provide incentives, rewards?
A: (Friedman) Massachusetts has an awards program.
A: (Bravo) USPS has a bonus program for those who save money.
A: (Jones, moderator) Military allowed to use 50% of proceeds from recycling towards activities to increase morale, provide recreation, etc. At discretion of base commander. GSA's recycling program returns 100% of money to participating agency.

Q: How did you decide what products to focus on?
A: (Friedman) Massachusetts picked things they knew they should be doing, such as Energy Star computers; also, things they buy a lot of, such as cleaners.
A: (Jones) Pareto analysis done at DLA to select the biggest sale items in order to reach the largest consumer base.

Q: Do you specify certain products?
A: (Luck) Cost, performance, environmental attributes are taken into account.
A: (Friedman) If costs are close, mandate the environmentally preferable product; evaluation based on points
A: (Jones) Don't proceed based on initial cost, use the life cycle cost or total cost of the product.

Q: How do you calculate life cycle cost?
A: (Jones) DLA is beginning to look at life cycle cost, from procurement to disposal. It is a number crunching exercise. DLA is developing an algorithm, which will take approx. another year to complete.

Q: Who should do the life cycle cost analysis?
A: (Jones) If you purchase through DLA or GSA, the federal government will usually do it (for other feds). Looking for third party certifiers or industry to provide information, to marry what DLA and GSA are doing with industry information.
A: (Weiss) DOD found it had dozens of methodologies under development.
A group evaluated all methodologies and rated them. Three stood out.

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