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Sustainable Marketplace: Greener Products and Services

About the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program

EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program helps the US federal government harness private sector innovation by utilizing marketplace standards and ecolabels to identify and procure environmentally preferable products and services.  In turn, the program leverages the significant federal purchasing power to prevent pollution, realize lifecycle cost savings, and increase US industry competitiveness, in line with our obligations under both the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) (Section 12d) and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA) (Section 6604).

The EPP program started in 1993 after the signing of Executive Order 12873, and has been reaffirmed in all subsequent Executive Orders issued by the last three Presidents, including the most recent Executive Order 13693 (PDF) (16 pp, 341 K, About PDF). The Pollution Prevention Act also requires EPA to "identify opportunities to use Federal procurement to encourage source reduction," and Federal Acquisition Regulations Part 23.703 state that Agencies must "Maximize the utilization of environmentally preferable products and services (based on EPA-issued guidance)."

Specifically, the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program participates in consensus standards development to provide greater market clarity and definition around the manufacture and purchase of goods and services which are environmentally preferable and then supports the uptake of those standards in federal procurement.  In FY 17, the EPP Program issued Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels based on learnings from a multi-year pilot that included independent assessment using stakeholder-developed guidelines. 

The EPP Program has launched and managed additional initiatives to help meet its objectives, including: EPEAT, the Federal Electronics Challenge, and the EPA Green Building Workgroup.

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," according to the Implementing Instructions for Executive Order 13693. This comparison applies to raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use, reuse, operation, maintenance and disposal.

According to the Green Electronics Council (GEC), “Over their lifetime, the 1.1 billion EPEAT-registered electronics purchased globally since 2006 will deliver significant environmental benefits. Compared to products not meeting EPEAT criteria, these electronics will result in the reduction of 39 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses, elimination of 670 metric tons of hazardous waste, and will reduce solid waste by the equivalent of 292 U.S. households’ annual waste.” Read more on GEC's webpage.ExitAdditionaly, EPEAT-registered products sold from 2012-2015 have resulted in a cost savings of $14 billion, the Council said.