EPA to Expand Environmental Performance Standard and Ecolabel Recommendations for Federal Purchasing, Including Those That Address PFAS, Embodied Carbon, and Other Administration Priorities
Released on November 2, 2022
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a new process to expand the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program’s Recommendations of Specifications, Standards and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing (Recommendations). The Agency is inviting managers of standards development organizations, ecolabel programs, and other similar organizations to apply for potential assessment and inclusion in the Recommendations. EPA is also hosting a webinar on November 15, 2022, from 1–2:30 p.m. EST to answer questions from stakeholders about the expansion of the Recommendations and the process for applying.
The U.S. federal government is the world’s largest purchaser, and by streamlining the sustainable products marketplace, the EPP program generates significant cost savings and environmental benefits to the federal government, including by preventing climate impacts, reducing pollution, and increasing U.S. industry competitiveness. The Agency’s Pollution Prevention (P2) program, which houses the EPP program, focuses on reducing, eliminating, or preventing pollution at its source.
The EPP program’s Recommendations help U.S. federal government purchasers utilize private sector standards and ecolabels to meet sustainable acquisition goals and mandates. They currently include more than 40 private sector environmental performance standards and ecolabels in over 30 purchase categories.
The expansion of the Recommendations is a key step toward implementing President Biden’s Executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability and the accompanying Federal Sustainability Plan, which set an ambitious goal of achieving net-zero emissions from federal procurement by 2050. In addition, it will support the implementation of new programs funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, among other authorities.
Application and assessment process
To apply to have a standard or ecolabel included in the Recommendations, interested applicants should first familiarize themselves with the Framework for the Assessment of Environmental Performance Standards and Ecolabels (Framework), which will be used to assess all eligible applicants. Then, submit responses to the scoping questions to email@example.com by January 1, 2023. The scoping questions will be used by EPA to determine eligibility and scope of the assessment.
The Agency developed the framework from 2011-2015 and issued an updated version in February 2022. The Framework provides a transparent, fair, and consistent approach to evaluating product and service environmental performance standards and ecolabels for inclusion in EPA's Recommendations. Since 2015, which is the last time EPA used the Framework to assess standards and ecolabels, there has been significant support from industry and environmental stakeholders and demand from the standard/ecolabel community to perform assessments and expand the Recommendations.
After the application deadline closes, EPA will issue an estimated timeline for full assessments against the Framework by product/service category within 120 days. For each category being assessed, EPA will provide further notice and instruction to applicable applicants.
EPA is seeking to assess multi-attribute standards and ecolabels that recognize environmental performance leadership and support federal goals and mandates regarding climate, safer chemicals, or other sustainable acquisition priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration (e.g., net-zero emissions, low embodied carbon construction materials, and the restriction or elimination of per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in certified products).
EPA is particularly interested in assessing standards and ecolabels in the following sectors:
- Food and cafeteria services;
- Professional services; and
- Laboratories and healthcare.
Additionally, standards and ecolabels that address other sectors already included in the Recommendations are welcome to apply.