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Frequent Questions

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What is P2?

P2 stands for Pollution Prevention. P2 aims to reduce pollution at its source, before it is generated, rather than clean up pollution after-the-fact as with recycling, treatment and disposal.

Congress declared it to be the national policy of the United States that:

  1. Pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible;
  2. Pollution that cannot be prevented should be recycled in an environmentally safe manner, whenever feasible;
  3. Pollution that cannot be prevented or recycled should be treated in an environmentally safe manner whenever feasible; and
  4. Disposal or other release into the environment should be employed only as a last resort and should be conducted in an environmentally safe manner.

More information on pollution prevention is available at EPA's Pollution Prevention (P2) Web site.

What is EPP?

EPP stands for Environmentally Preferable Purchasing. Environmentally preferable purchasing means adding environmental considerations to purchasing decisions along with traditional factors such as performance, price, health, and safety.

What is the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program?

The primary purpose of the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program is to help Executive agencies prevent waste and pollution by considering environmental impacts along with price and performance and other traditional factors when deciding what products and services to buy.

The Federal government is the single largest consumer in the U.S., spending over $350 billion each year on a wide variety of products and services. The government's purchase and use of products and services leave a large environmental footprint. Through its purchasing decisions, the Federal government can minimize environmental impacts while supporting manufacturers that produce environmentally preferable products and services.

The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program serves as a clearinghouse of information and tools to facilitate the efforts of Executive agencies to purchase environmentally preferable products and services. The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program's audience is not limited to the Federal government, however. Businesses, non-profit organizations, and state and local government agencies have also found the program to be of interest and value.

The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program assists in the implementation of Executive Order 13514 - Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance (PDF) (15 pp, 88KB), which requires federal agencies to use sustainable practices when acquiring goods and services. The Federal Acquisition Regulation; Environmentally Sound Products (PDF) (5 pp, 43 KB) also requires Executive agencies to identify and purchase environmentally preferable products and services.

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What are environmentally preferable products and services?

As defined in the instructions for implementing Executive Order 13423, 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. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, product, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, or disposal of the product or service."

EPA has developed five guiding principles that provide further meaning to this definition. For more details, please refer to EPA's Final Guidance on Environmentally Preferable Purchasing.

It is important to note that:

You may also want to consult existing environmental standards or guidelines that have been developed by a variety of government and non-government organizations. These standards will give you an idea of the types of attributes that help distinguish the environmental performance of certain categories of products and services. The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database of Environmental Information for Products and Services contains information about environmental standards for a variety of products and services. EPA is also involved in the development of voluntary consensus-based standards, such as textiles, carpets, janitorial products and electronics.

Will the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program/EPA endorse my product as environmentally preferable? How do I get on EPA's list of environmentally-preferable products?

As a federal governmental agency, neither EPA nor its programs can endorse any products or services.

While the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program does not keep a list of environmentally-preferable products, there are programs at EPA that do have lists of vendors and products that meet their requirements for specific products and services.

Other federal agencies also have programs that list vendors that meet their requirements for products.

There are also third party organizations that provide certification services. To learn more about these organizations, please see the Database of Environmental Information for Products and Services, Web links for specific products and services. Please note that the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program provides the names of these organizations for information purposes and does not endorse any one of these.

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How can I sell my product or service to the federal government?

The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Web site has a section with information for vendors of environmentally preferable products and services.

In particular, a good resource to start with is Selling Environmental Products to the Federal Government. Although originally targeted at small businesses, much of the information in the brochure is broadly applicable to anyone who wants to do business with the Federal government.

Additionally, we encourage you to do what you do best; market your product! For government purchasers, vendors are a key source of information on products and services. You can encourage government agencies to buy environmentally preferable products by referencing Executive Order 13514 (PDF) (15 pp, 88K) and the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Final Guidance. In addition, provide them with information about the environmental aspects of your product or service.

Are there any regulations that I need to follow to advertise my "green" product or service?

Yes. Please refer to the Federal Trade Commission's Guides to the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides).

The Green Guides, revised in May 1998, are intended to reduce consumer confusion and prevent false or misleading use of environmental terms in product advertising and labeling. The Green Guides indicate how the Federal Trade Commission will apply Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices, in environmental marketing claims. The Green Guides apply to all forms of product and service marketing to the public, including advertisements, labels, package inserts, promotional materials, and electronic media.

What environmentally preferable purchasing pilot projects have been completed?

Many Executive agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Interior, the General Services Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and others have completed or are currently engaged in putting into practice environmentally preferable purchasing through pilot projects. The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program has published and compiled environmentally preferable purchasing case studies, summarizing some of these efforts.

Where can I find a definition of an environmentally preferable purchasing term?

EPA's Final Guidance on Environmentally Preferable Purchasing has an appendix with a Glossary of Terms.

EPA also maintains a Terms of Environment: Glossary, Abbreviations and Acronyms.

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