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Session 9: Public Sector Pilots

Thursday, July 17, 1997
10:45 - 12:00 pm



Speaker 1: Jim Tira, Allied Signal

Mr. Tira presented some environmentally preferable technologies that Allied Signal has developed for its clients, including the U.S. Department of Energy. Allied Signal is a management and operations contractor to DOE, and undertakes manufacturing at its Kansas City facility. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, humankind has worked to make products cheaper, faster, better. Only in the last 10-15 years have we considered recycling and design for the environment.

Industrial waste is a commodity that has no value; if one can identify a use for a waste commodity and call it a resource, then it has value. At the Kansas City plant, Allied Signal has had five opportunities to look at waste commodities: fly ash, tire crumb rubber, wood flour, plastic oil bottles, and computer circuit boards.

Fly Ash: a small company in Virginia came to Allied Signal for help in finding a way to use fly ash to make a slate-like product. Allied Signal developed a procedure to combine fly ash with resin blends, and created slate roof tiles, clay tiles, and architectural moldings.

Crumb Rubber: This process involves taking tires, breaking them down to separate out the steel, fiber cord, and crumb rubber for sale. The rubber can be remolded.

Wood Flour: waste particle board from furniture manufacture can be turned into wood flour, which can be used to make new particle board or "cow chow" (i.e., fodder for cattle) by adding alfalfa and other nutrients.

Plastic Oil Bottles: Allied Signal developed a supercritical carbon-dioxide process which separates out the oil from the oil bottles; the oil can be reused, as can the plastic.

Computer Circuit Boards: Allied Signal developed a process to remold computer circuit board material, which can then be used to produce plaques or make plastic lumber.

Allied Signal is involved in DOE's Industrial Partnership Program. For further information, contact:

Office of Industrial Partnerships
Allied Signal, Inc. 1-800-225-8829

Federal Manufacturing and Technology
2000 East 95th Street
P.O. Box 419159
Kansas City, MO 64141-6159

Speaker 2: George Clark, GSA, Paints and Chemicals Center

Mr. Clark has held various positions in purchasing and contracting in the Federal Government since 1970. He currently serves as the Deputy Director of the GSA Paints & Chemical Center in Auburn, WA. The center provides complete logistics support for paint, chemicals, sealants and adhesives, and cleaning compounds for all federal agencies.

The Paints and Chemicals Center is the integrated material manager for paints and coatings, brushes, sealants, adhesives, cleaning products, and other chemicals.

GSA introduced a new line of commercial biodegradable cleaners and degreasers to support government reinvention of 1993. All products meet EPA and international standards for biodegradability and toxicity. Nearly 100 new NSNs were established to support the program. Annual federal sales total over $4.5 million.

The project required vendors to provide independent test data for biodegradability and toxicity. The requirement was included in the solicitation. As a follow-up to this effort, GSA entered into a pilot with EPA to develop a matrix of environmental attributes. They worked with key stakeholders to develop the matrix, which was included in the GSA cleaning products catalogue.

GSA is working on a latex paint matrix, which will provide customers with environmental and performance attributes of interior latex paints. The effort involves a partnership with industry and government. GSA spent many months working with the paint industry on recycled latex paint. The Center developed specifications for recycled latex paint, to include a minimum of 50% post-consumer paint. Twenty-four colors were developed. Annual sales are currently at about $100,000.

Making environmentally preferable purchasing work calls for cooperation and support among federal purchasers. "Green" products are available.

Speaker 3: Pat Kennedy, EPA Office of Pollution Prevention & Toxics

Cleaning Products Pilot: EPA began the project in 1993. The project initially involved the Office Building Products Center at GSA, who came to EPA for help. The end result was the product attribute matrix which is included in the GSA cleaning products guide. Attributes where the information was the same for all products was not included in the matrix. In addition, some attributes were not included because they were too complicated to evaluate at this time; these were primarily related to the more problematic human health areas.

The fact sheet on the pilot is being printed and can be obtained by contacting the pollution prevention information center at EPA. EPA held focus group meetings this Spring with federal procurement officials to find out how the matrix is working. Attendees generally broke out into two camps: those for whom the matrix was too complex to use, and those who found the information useful. As a result of the focus groups, EPA is developing a video as a training tool as well as an Internet tool to help users conduct multi-attribute assessments.

The video tool is intended to demonstrate how to use the cleaners matrix. The first audience for the video will be USPS, which has a national training program and has incorporated the matrix into its training manual. EPA expects to eventually have a version available to other federal agencies.

The Internet tool is expected to be available by late summer. The tool will allow users to assign priorities or weights to the various attributes depending on how much the individual is concerned about each one. The tool will generate a list of products by score based on the weights specified.

EPA is also involved in the latex paint pilot. The pilot has developed draft guidance for vendors that includes performance attributes in addition to environmental attributes. GSA plans to send the draft guidance out in the August supply schedule requesting that vendors voluntarily submit information which will eventually be included in the catalog.

Speaker 4: Sandra Cannon, Battelle, Leader Affirmative Procurement

Some perceived problems with environmentally preferable purchasing include: cost is too high, products are not available, poor performance, hard to gather statistics. For each perceived problem or barrier, Ms. Cannon presented a pilot situation that addresses the barrier.

1. Cost too high

Pilot situation 1: A group of small government offices in Walla Walla formed a co-op to purchase a combined quantity of recycled paper equivalent to a truckload (880 cases/8800 reams). The co-op went out for a bid on 20% post-consumer paper and saved almost $2 a ream (i.e., $3.35 versus more than $5).

Pilot situation 2: Battelle went from a centralized purchasing system to credit card system and as a result, lost the leverage of large quantity purchases. To overcome this, Battelle established preferred customer agreements through an RFP and selected a supplier offering the largest selection of recycled products at the best prices. Battelle set up an electronic ordering system with the supplier, but allowed staff to use any supplier, thereby maintaining competition. The preferred customer agreements pushed prices down: for example, recycled disks dropped from $7/box to $4.60.

2. Products are not available

When presented with a non-preferred supplier offering a recycled plastic envelope, the preferred supplier was suddenly able to obtain the product when previously it had stated the product was unavailable.

3. Poor performance

Early recycled toner cartridges had quality problems. The resulting bad reputation was difficult to change. To overcome this, Battelle defined performance specifications for quality cartridges, established closed-loop agreements with suppliers, included a best price and quality guarantee, and solicited free recycled cartridges for doubting staff to try out. Recycled cartridges are 1/3 the price of new cartridges.

4. Statistics are hard to gather

Battelle asks staff using purchasing cards to supply statistics--30% response rate. Suppliers also are asked to provide statistics, and 6 of the 20 are able to do so. The company also collects statistics via purchasing card software and purchase request software. It is not a perfect system, because it relies on individuals to remember and provide information.


Co-ops and preferred customer agreements push down prices Maintaining competition among suppliers encourages availability Specifications improve performance Free recycled products improve staff willingness to purchase Purchasing software can be adapted to measure success of program

Questions & Answers:

Q: Can contractors like Battelle purchase through GSA?
A: (Clark) If a contractor is working under a cost-plus contract, the Contracting Officer can authorize the contractor to use government resources to proactively reduce costs.

Q: Is GSA planning to take paints back from DOE, other federal sources besides neighborhood collections?
A: (Clark) Perhaps in the future; need to build demand first. GSA only has $100,000 in sales at this time.

Q: If a company can demonstrate that it uses recycled materials in a product, does that count as environmentally preferable?
A: Not necessarily.

Q: Are there plans to adjust or modify the cleaning products matrix?
A: (Kennedy) At this point there are no plans to do so. The matrix was a pilot project, which has a finite end.

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