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Green Purchasing on the Rise in Government Procurement

March 3, 2016
A new survey reports that 58% say that at least 10% of their purchasing decisions consider environmental factors.

The percentage of government spending that is influenced by green purchasing practices has increased since 2014, according to a January 2016 survey of purchasing professionals conducted by Government Procurement. 

Approximately 72% of purchasers in both 2016 and 2014 reported including environmental performance specifications in government contracts at least sometimes, but the percentage of contracts that include environmental requirements has increased.  

Of the 2016 respondents, 58% say that at least 10% of their purchasing decisions consider environmental factors, which is a 5% increase from the 53% of respondents in 2014.

In the 2016 survey, 37% of respondents reported that 20% or more of their purchases consider environmental factors, also a 5% increase from 2014.

Green Purchasing is Shifting to New Product Categories
The survey also showed that new product categories including green electricity and green electronic purchases are growing in importance. The increase in greener electricity and electronic purchases might be connected to a broader focus on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with government purchasing.

One survey respondent, for example, referenced an October 2015 Greening of State Government Executive Order signed by the Governor of Colorado. It focuses extensively on reducing the state’s contributions to global warming and includes several green purchasing requirements including  energy efficiency and rewewable energy.  President Obama signed a similar executive order, Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, in March 2015 that includes updated federal green purchasing requirements.

Environmental Attributes Are Shifting Too
Purchasers are expanding the environmental factors they consider when buying paper beyond recycled content. Between 2014 and 2016, purchasers increased their focus on the certification of the paper’s non-recycled content by organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

In the cleaning products category, purchasers show an increased reliance on specific environmental attributes like biodegradability and products sold as concentrates. There has been a drop in the percentage of purchasers using green cleaning certifications from 2014 to 2016.

The survey concludes that green purchasing will continue to remain an important and flexible policy tool.