United States
Pollution Prevention
and Toxics
August 1998
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program
A Case  Study of
Massachusetts' Enviro
Purchasing Program
    -Tinted on paper that contains at least;

  Environmentally Preferable

        Purchasing Program

  Environmentally preferable purchasing ensures that
environmental considerations are included in purchasing
decisions, along with traditional factors such as product
price and performance. The EPP program provides guid-
ance for federal agencies to facilitate purchases of
goods and services that pose fewer burdens on the
          For more information contact:
 Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (PPIC)
             Phone: 202 260-1023
             E-mail: ppic@epa.gov

     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes that environ-
     mentally preferable purchasing is a dynamic concept that, depending on the
     product category, will not necessarily be implemented in the same manner
from agency to agency or even within a specific agency. In order to demonstrate
some of the ways environmentally preferable purchasing principles are currently
being applied, EPA is documenting examples of environmental purchasing efforts
undertaken by Executive agencies, state and local governments, and the private sec-

  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts' environmental purchasing program is
one of these efforts. This case study describes how Massachusetts incorporated
environmental attributes into its purchasing process and how it spread the word to
Commonwealth purchasers about the importance of buying environmental prod-
ucts. This case study illustrates how collaborating with other agencies and
emphasizing education and outreach can result in a successful environmental pur-
chasing program. We hope the lessons and insights documented in this case study
will help you and your organization as you begin incorporating environmental
preferability into your purchasing decisions.
                               Purchasing in Perspective

                   The federal government purchases more than $200 billion worth of goods
                   and services each year.

                   State and local governments combined purchase more than $1 trillion
                   worth of goods and services per year, according to Governing magazine's
                   Sourcebook 1997.

                   The Commonwealth of Massachusetts purchases more than $300 million
                   worth of commodities each year.

                       EPA's Environmentally Preferable Guidance

                         EPA identified seven guiding principles to help federal agencies incorporate
                       environmental preferability into their procurement practices. The following princi-
                       ples were proposed in the Federal Register (FR) in EPA's "Guidance on Acquisition
                       of Environmentally Preferable Products and Services" (60 FR 50722):

                       1.  Consideration of environmental preferability should begin early in the acquisi-
                          tion process and be rooted in the ethic of pollution prevention, which strives to
                          eliminate or reduce, up front, potential risks to human health and the environ-

                       2.  A product or service's environmental preferability is a function of multiple

                       3.  Environmental preferability should reflect  the lifecycle considerations of prod-
                          ucts and services to the extent feasible.

                       4.  Environmental preferability should consider the scale (e.g., global versus local)
                          and temporal reversibility aspects of a  product or service's impact.

                       5.  Environmental preferability should be tailored to local conditions where

                       6.  The environmental objectives of products or services should be a factor  or sub-
                          factor in competition among vendors,  when appropriate.

                       7.  Agencies need to examine product attribute claims carefully.
ii    +   Foreword

             Foreword	i
             Introduction 	1
             Putting Environmental Purchasing Into Action	3
             Procurement Reform and Its Impact on Environmental Purchasing	10
             Measuring Success  	11
             Questions for the Future	12
             Helpful Tips From Massachusetts' Experience	14
             Opportunities for Growth	15
             For More Information                                         . .16
                                                                Contents   +   iii

A       state government can significantly affect the kinds of products and services
       diat are supplied through its large, influential purchasing power. The
       Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which purchases more than $300 million
in commodities each year, opted to help the environment through its purchasing
practices. Rather than simply awarding contracts to the lowest bidders,
Massachusetts has taken a proactive stance toward purchasing and now incorporates
environmental considerations into its purchasing decisions.

  Massachusetts is one of the first states to go beyond a buy-recycled program by
incorporating various other innovative environmental practices into its procure-
ments, such as awarding points to bidders and vendors who meet specific
environmental criteria. Since 1988, when Massachusetts first established its environ-
mental purchasing program, the Commonwealth has devoted more of its resources
each year to the procurement of environmentally preferable goods. In fact, in fiscal
year 1997, the Commonwealth spent $34 million on dozens of products with envi-
ronmental attributes, and in many cases, these products were less expensive than
their conventional counterparts.

  Traditionally, environmental purchasing programs are managed by state environ-
mental officials who try to work with procurement departments to  ensure that
environmental attributes are incorporated in their specifications. Due to differing
goals and distance between offices, however, this relationship has often been
problematic for some states. Consequently, Massachusetts decided to try a different
approach.  Through funding provided by environmental agencies, the Operational
Services Division (OSD), the central purchasing agency for the state, hired two staff
members to work solely on environmental issues. These individuals, who are con-
sidered part of OSD's staff, attend procurement meetings and play a central role in
writing specifications for statewide contracts. This unique approach has enabled the
purchasing office to rely more on its own resources, communicate more  effectively
within the office, and produce the resulting environmental success.

  Massachusetts' experience with this program provides useful tips for states,
government agencies, and other organizations interested in applying EPA's guiding
principles for environmental purchasing. This case study documents the lessons
learned by Massachusetts about environmental procurement, including the need to
do the following:

    •  Collaborate with other agencies that can contribute necessary skills and
       valuable perspective to the project.

    •  Interact directly with purchasers and utilize brochures, fact sheets, and
       other informational materials.

                           Educate purchasers and end-users about environmentally preferable prod-
                           ucts rather than simply requiring them to buy the products.

                           Make products with environmental attributes more easily accessible to

                           Be patient and persistent.
This case study provides background information
on the Commonwealth's environmental purchasing
program, an overview of the program and its suc-
cesses, and a discussion of the challenges and
opportunities Massachusetts is likely to encounter
when it expands the program in the future.
Information was obtained by conducting interviews
with several key officials responsible for imple-
menting the Commonwealth's program and by
consulting annual reports and other documents
published by Massachusetts.

Putting  Environmental Purchasing Into Action
Setting the Stage

     The Commonwealth of Massachusetts' environmental purchasing efforts origi-
     nated in its buy-recycled program. Launched in 1988 with a Commonwealth
     executive order on recycled products procurement, the buy-recycled program
gained added momentum in 1992 with the publication of the Commonwealth's
Solid Waste Master Plan. That plan established a 46 percent recycling rate goal by
2000 and acknowledged the importance of buy-recycled efforts in meeting that
goal. The Commonwealth reached a milestone in its buy-recycled campaign in July
1994, when it included recycled-content requirements in its  contracts for printing
and writing paper.

  Based on the success of its buy-recycled program, Massachusetts recognized it
could purchase other products  with favorable environmental attributes and began
incorporating additional attributes into the procurement process.

  Massachusetts' definition of products with environmental attributes is similar to
the federal  government's definition in Executive Order 12873. The Massachusetts
definition reads, "Environmentally preferable products are...commodities or ser-
vices 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.
Such products and services may include, but are not limited to, those which mini-
mize waste, utilize recycled materials, conserve energy or water, and/or reduce the
consumption or disposal of toxic materials."
How Environmental  Purchasing Works in

  Commonwealth agencies can purchase products in the following three ways:

   •  Through statewide contracts. These contracts are for high-volume
      purchases by multiple agencies on which the Commonwealth spends
      more than $50,000 each year. In addition to the approximately 70
      Commonwealth agencies, municipalities and authorities (such as schools)
      also can buy products through statewide contracts. Massachusetts' central
      purchasing agency, OSD, does not track these purchases, however.

   •  Through independent agency purchases. If an individual agency
      identifies the need for a product that is not on a statewide contract, it
      can purchase the item through an independent agency purchase.

   •  Through small purchases. Agencies can purchase products as small
      purchases if they are buying less than $1,000 worth of a product, as long
      as the product is not on a statewide contract.

  Agencies must purchase products through a statewide contract, unless the prod-
ucts are unavailable or do not meet the specifications for a particular use. Special
                                          Putting Environmental Purchasing Into Action

                   products required for certain types of equipment also are exempt from statewide
                   contract purchasing.

                      OSD is responsible for establishing statewide contracts, writing product specifi-
                   cations, monitoring Commonwealth purchasing, and educating agency purchasers.
                   OSD also coordinates Massachusetts' environmental purchasing efforts with help
                   from two other Commonwealth agencies: the Executive Office of Environmental
                   Affairs (EOEA) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Money
                   from DEP's Clean Environment Fund supports two environmental purchasing
                   positions within OSD: an environmental purchasing coordinator and an environ-
                   mental purchasing trainer. These individuals attend procurement meetings and play
                   a central role in writing specifications for statewide contracts, which has enabled
                   the purchasing office  to rely more on its  own resources and communicate more
                   effectively within the  office.

                      In the past, DEP attempted to coordinate the Commonwealth's environmental
                   purchasing efforts. DEP found, however, that staff members did not have the time
                   necessary to devote to purchasing in addition to their other duties. Communication
                   and interaction between DEP and OSD also was difficult because the two agencies
                   were in separate buildings. The Commonwealth eventually realized that individuals
                   were needed in the purchasing office to help incorporate environmental attributes
                   into the procurement process.

                      An interagency workgroup comprised of representatives from OSD, DEP, and
                   EOEA meets bimonthly to ensure cooperation among the various players in the
                   environmental purchasing program and to share information. In addition, the envi-
                   ronmental purchasing coordinator and trainer meet with OSD procurement staff
                   on a regular basis. They attend team meetings, for example, with the procurement
                   staff members responsible for writing specifications for products in a certain cate-
                   gory. This type of interaction ensures that procurement staff learn more about
                   environmental issues and environmental  experts gain a better understanding of pro-
                   curement. It also minimizes the difficulties encountered by both procurement and
                   environmental staff members in communicating with one another and fosters better
                   relations among the agencies involved.
Key collaborators in Massachusetts' environmental
purchasing program include the following:

• Operational Services Division

• Executive Office of Environmental Affairs

• Department of Environmental Protection
      Putting Environmental Purchasing Into Action

The  Main  Event:  Product Evaluation

   Gathering Data

   Together, the environmental purchasing coordinator and trainer identify prod-
ucts that appear to be good candidates for incorporation into their environmental
purchasing program. In order to be a good candidate, a product should be available
in the marketplace or information about its environmental attributes should be
available. The coordinator and trainer then talk with other purchasers, determine
whether any specifications or standards currently exist for the product, and analyze
the cost of the product in relation to a competing conventional product that serves
the same purpose. To gather this information, the coordinator and trainer contact
other states and municipalities active in environmental purchasing, conduct search-
es on the Internet, and send out queries through the National Association of State
Purchasing Officials (NASPO), an organization of state government purchasers that
maintains a database of recycled commodities. (See the NASPO Web site at

   Verifying Product Information                  "We don't want to cause people stress. We want to
                                             make products available and encourage people to use
   OSD relies, in great part, on information                                            TTr 1,1-
    ....       ,     ,    ,                    them through marketing and education. We believe
provided by vendors when determining a         ^ .f    force      k tQ b   cemin    d
products environmental attributes Vendors       ^ hurt ^         ^ ^ j    fun „
certify that the products they supply meet
the specifications of the contract or bid.
OSD depends on the accuracy and truthful-
ness of this information, as it does not
verify the information provided by the ven-
dors. OSD also does not conduct
independent lifecycle assessments of prod-
ucts to determine their complete
environmental impact.

   Vendors realize that the Commonwealth can cancel a contract at any time if the
information they provide is inaccurate; thus, they presumably provide honest and
accurate information. The environmental purchasing coordinator and trainer also
occasionally visit manufacturers of some of the environmental products the
Commonwealth purchases to see how the products are made and to ask for letters
certifying the environmental attributes of the particular product. Recently, for
example, the environmental purchasing coordinator and trainer visited a plastic bag
manufacturer to observe how recycled plastic pellets are used to make the bags.

   Incorporating Products Into Statewide Contracts

   Once information about environmental products is collected and analyzed, the
environmental staff brings it to the attention of the procurement team writing the
contract specifications. Often, an existing product specification is brought to the
procurement team to use when writing the state's specification. OSD  maintains a
library of existing product specifications, as well as other product information, such
as performance and cost.
                                             Putting Environmental Purchasing Into Action

                          The environmental staff works with procurement teams to determine whether
                        they can change an existing product specification or if a separate specification is
                        needed. In some cases, OSD establishes dual contracts for items. OSD maintains
                        one contract for recycled paint, for example, and another for virgin paint. The
                        environmental staff recommends taking this approach if a product is relatively new
                        to the marketplace or if its performance is still being evaluated. In addition, OSD
                        might establish a dual contract for a product if less than three vendors offer the
                        environmentally preferable product or if the cost of the environmental product is
                        significantly higher than its conventional counterpart.

                          Two products for which Massachusetts currently has dual contracts are paint and
                        motor oil. Massachusetts has found that recycled paint is not available in the vari-
                        ety of colors and types required by some purchasers. The state, therefore, has a
                        dual contract for recycled and virgin paint. While motor oil is currently purchased
                        using a similar dual contract, the state is investigating the use of a single contract
                        that would specify that all motor oil must contain a minimum of 50 percent re-
                        refined oil base stock. (Motor oil typically consists of base stock and additives.) For
                        many purchases, the state already exceeds this  50 percent requirement; it purchases
                        motor oil  containing 75  to 100 percent re-refined oil base stock.

                          The Challenge of Multiple Environmental Attributes

                          The Commonwealth  finds it challenging to consider multiple attributes on an
                        individual product basis  for several reasons. Among these reasons is a lack of avail-
                        able information on multiple attributes. Product information tends to focus on
                        single attributes, and sometimes individual attributes are at odds with one another.
                        Some paper products, for example, are available  either with recycled content or
                        chlorine-free content, but are not available with  both of these environmental

                          Most of Massachusetts' program has focused on considering single attributes of
                        products, with a few notable exceptions. OSD  is  currently considering more than
                        one environmental attribute in two of its paper contracts. Its janitorial paper con-
                        tract requires that paper be made with recycled content and that it not be bleached
                        with elemental chlorine. The two-way envelopes Massachusetts buys are made with
                        recycled content and prevent waste by eliminating the need for return envelopes.
                        In addition, Massachusetts is in the final stages of development for bid specifica-
                        tions involving multiple  attributes for cleaning products. The specifications will
                        address attributes such as biodegradability, volatile organic compounds, skin and
                        eye irritants, carcinogens, and toxic ingredients.

                          Although OSD has found it more difficult to integrate multiple attributes than
                        single attributes, it plans to continue to consider more than one environmental
                        attribute on a product-specific basis as  it learns more about other agencies' and
                        organizations' environmental purchasing successes.
6    +   Putting Environmental Purchasing Into Action

Spreading the Word About Environmental

  Rather than issue a mandate, Massachusetts adopted an educational approach for
its environmental procurement program. OSD believes that allowing customers to
make well-informed decisions based on available information is as efficient as, if not
more so, than requiring customers to comply with strict program guidelines. As
OSD has realized, a satisfied customer is the best marketing tool.

  Educating Vendors

  In addition to indicating its preference for products with environmental attribut-
es through contract and solicitation language, OSD communicates with vendors
through its  Internet home page, .
OSD also calls vendors directly to express its interest in environmental products
and to request information about product attributes. Vendors are generally recep-
tive to OSD's request for information and frequently call OSD to promote
particular products.

  Educating Customers (End- Users)

  OSD has worked to broaden its definition of "customer" in order to spread the
word about environmental purchasing to entities  other than Commonwealth agen-
cies. Its customer base now includes all executive  agencies; authorities such as the
Massachusetts Port Authority; universities; municipalities, including local schools;
and purchasing cooperatives on both the municipal and county levels. OSD edu-
cates its customers about environmental purchasing in the following ways:

    •  Commonwealth vendors' fairs. OSD considers vendors' fairs one of the
       most successful ways to spread the word about its environmental purchasing
       efforts. OSD held three fairs in the past 3 years. At the fairs,
       Commonwealth purchasers can speak directly with vendors. OSD also
       offers training seminars on purchasing products in different categories as
       well as on writing product specifications.  OSD has no direct measure of the
       impact of the fairs on purchasers; the fairs are popular, however, drawing
       increasingly large numbers of attendees. Participation has grown from 40
       vendors and 140 purchasers at the first fair to 85 vendors and 400 pur-
       chasers at the most recent fair.

    •  Workshops. OSD holds periodic workshops that address general environ-
       mental purchasing issues. In fiscal year 1995, OSD held  11 such workshops,
       but attendance was low and the workshops required a tremendous amount
       of time to organize. As a result, OSD decided to contact other organiza-
       tions holding workshops or conferences in Massachusetts to incorporate
       sessions on environmental purchasing into their events, thus saving valuable
       time and effort. In addition, if an agency or municipality in  the
       Commonwealth approaches OSD and requests a workshop  on a specific
       topic, OSD will organize the event. This  process  allows OSD to focus its
       efforts on educating a targeted audience without going to the trouble of
       sending out invitations, finding a workshop site, and coordinating other
       meeting logistics.
                                             Putting Environmental Purchasing Into Action

                           Awards program. To provide an incentive to Commonwealth agencies to
                           purchase environmentally preferable products, OSD created an awards pro-
                           gram to acknowledge agencies and municipalities that have been
                           particularly active in environmental purchasing. Awards are presented in
                           each of the following seven categories: 1) best overall agency program, 2)
                           best overall municipal program, 3) most innovative program, 4) best target-
                           ed program, 5) best facility program, 6) best university program, 7) best
                           written policy, and 8) best environmentally preferable purchasing program.
                           In November 1997, OSD presented awards to six agencies and two munici-
                           palities in the Commonwealth.

                           Web site. OSD dedicated a page on its Web site to environmental pro-
                           curement. The site contains various procurement annual reports and
                           publications (that can be downloaded), includes updates on the
                           Commonwealth's environmental purchasing efforts, and promotes upcom-
                           ing events.

                           Fact sheets. OSD produced six fact sheets on buying re-refined oil, recy-
                           cled paint, remanufactured toner cartridges, recycled paper, recycled
                           envelopes, and recycled office supplies. Designed to educate Massachusetts
                           purchasers, these fact sheets include information on cost comparisons
                           between environmental products and their conventional counterparts, case
                           studies of Commonwealth entities currently using the environmental prod-
                           ucts, and facts about the products' performance and standards. OSD
                           distributes the fact sheets to agencies, municipalities, and authorities and
                           makes them available on its Web site. OSD plans to develop additional fact
                           sheets over the next several months.

                           Guidebook. OSD developed a 24-page Recycled Products Guide, which lists
                           all the statewide contracts that offer environmental products. The guide
                           also includes tips for writing product specifications, instructions on how to
                           use state contracts, and steps to follow in order to start a buy-recycled pro-
                           gram for municipalities. Although the primary audience for the guide is
                           agencies and municipalities, any Commonwealth purchaser can request a

                           Informational mailings. Periodically, OSD sends information to
                           Commonwealth purchasers about specific products or contracts. OSD uses
                           mailing lists developed by other agencies or departments in Massachusetts
                           as well as a list of purchasers who attended the most recent vendor fair.
The address for OSD's Environmental Procurements
Web site is:

 +   Putting Environmental Purchasing Into Action

  Massachusetts customers who have
purchased products based on their
F  .              ..      -11-                The Commonwealth is dedicated to getting the word
environmental attributes—including
 .            ij-       11                out on environmentally preferable products and
cleaners, recycled paint, recycled-content                                                   ^,OT->
 ,   .  ,    ,       j       }    r                making them available on statewide contracts. OSD
plastic lumber products, remanulactured
F         ..  F       '    .   i-  i  •           has made it easier to purchase these products, and
   .       1  .  '       i     1-11             OSD staff members are accessible to communities
and retread tires—are pleased with the                                                         „
„           11,1-   1  rr                that nave questions about purchasing the products.
Commonwealths educational efforts.
According to many customers, vendor          —Sharon Byrne Kishida, Regional Recycling
fairs and The Recycled Products Guide are           Coordinator, Essex County
particularly helpful in raising awareness
about these products. Many customers
also state that the Commonwealth's list of
environmental products saves them time and resources they would have spent
identifying products. Some customers recommend, however, that Massachusetts
more  clearly communicate the cost-effectiveness of buying certain environmental
                                              Putting Environmental Purchasing Into Action

       Procurement  Reform  and  Its Impact on
       Environmental  Purchasing
                           Massachusetts recently conducted an evaluation of purchasing process costs and the
                           performance of products purchased under statewide contracts. The
                           Commonwealth performed the evaluation because the procurement staff
                 were spending 80 percent of their time processing only 20 percent of Massachusetts'
                 purchases. The state was also concerned that, by awarding contracts only to the lowest bid-
                 ders, it was sacrificing product quality and durability and, therefore, not meeting agency
                 needs. As a result, Massachusetts changed several aspects of its procurement process.

                    Instead of always awarding a contract to the lowest bidder, OSD now tries to include
                 value and environmental considerations in its award criteria. Massachusetts focuses on envi-
                 ronmental criteria when appropriate and makes every attempt to incorporate a purchasing
                 preference for products with environmental attributes. OSD considers a procurement to
                 represent the best value when it performs well, provides the best quality and economic
                 value, encourages competition among vendors, and ensures the continuing participation of
                 quality vendors. In addition to considering the best value and assuring that procurements
                 meet contract specifications, OSD awards points to bidders who meet various environ-
                 mental criteria including recycled content, energy or water conservation, and toxic or
                 other waste reduction. OSD is beginning to award contracts more frequently to vendors
                 who meet environmental criteria and has established a goal to make this a standard practice.

                    Massachusetts also is beginning to award points to vendors that use products and services
                 with environmental attributes in conducting their business. For its grocer contract, for
                 example, Massachusetts offered additional points to vendors who submitted an environmen-
                 tal plan in which they agreed to initiate source reduction of primary and secondary
                 packaging, recycle packaging materials, examine  the cost of adding a line of cleaners and
                 disinfectants with environmental attributes, provide  automatic dispensing systems to mini-
                 mize excess spillage and use of cleaners, and investigate the use of alternative fuel vehicles
                 for the grocer fleet. Massachusetts is currently reviewing the effectiveness of its new points

                    OSD finds that the cost-competitiveness of environmental products differs according to
                 the product category. Recycled-content paper products, for example, are often priced com-
                 petitively to virgin products. Some products with environmentally preferable attributes,
                 such as remanufactured toner cartridges, are cheaper than their counterparts. In some cases,
                 where vendors submitted bids for environmental products that were not priced competitive-
                 ly, OSD successfully renegotiated with the vendor for a lower price.

                    In one instance, after an award was made to a  recycled paint vendor, OSD discovered
                 that end-users were not purchasing the recycled  paint because it was approximately 10 per-
                 cent more expensive than virgin paint. OSD approached the vendor, explained why
                 end-users were not buying the recycled paint, and asked whether the vendor could lower its
                 prices. In order to keep the Commonwealth's business, the vendor reduced its price to with-
                 in a few cents of the price for virgin paint.

                    Due to these  and other changes brought about by procurement reform, OSD revised its
                 Procurement Policies and Procedures Handbook to include a section on environmental purchas-
                 ing. The new section describes procuring departments' responsibilities regarding
                 environmental purchasing, lists the environmental products available on statewide contracts,
                 and recommends methods for promoting the use of products and services with environmen-
                 tal attributes.

10   +   Procurement Reform and Its Impact on Environmental  Purchasing

Measuring Success
                        One important measure OSD uses to gauge the success of its program is the
                        amount of money it spends on environmental products. Massachusetts
                        increased its spending on products with environmental attributes from
                approximately $2 million in  1992 to approximately $34 million in 1997.

                  Other indicators of success include the variety of products purchased (at least
                45 types) and the number of environmental product contracts. Aside from recycled-
                content products, OSD finds it rather difficult to track the use of products with other
                environmental attributes. OSD can track the number of Energy Star computers pur-
                chased in a year, for example, and estimate the associated energy savings. This
                estimated figure, however, might not be representative of actual savings since OSD
                has no way of determining whether the energy saving feature on the computers is
                actually being used. This uncertainty derives from accounts  of computer support staff
                members disabling the energy saving feature when the computer is set up and then
                forgetting to reactivate it. OSD is hoping to rectify this problem by considering ways
                to educate computer support staff members about the importance of using the energy
                saving feature.

                  OSD also measures success in more qualitative ways, namely by attempting to
                gauge the level of support for the program within the Commonwealth and the extent
                to which awareness about products' environmental attributes has been raised. In order
                to conduct these evaluations, OSD solicits regular feedback  from end-users about
                product performance and addresses their responses accordingly. If responses are nega-
                tive, the environmental purchasing coordinator and trainer attempt to determine the
                source of the customers' dissatisfaction. An attempt also is made to ascertain whether
                the dissatisfaction is based on the product itself or on how the product is being used.
                If an end-user expresses dissatisfaction with a remanufactured toner cartridge, for
                example, OSD tries to determine if the problem is the actual toner cartridge, the way
                the cartridge is used, or the maintenance of the laser printer.
                                                                    Measuring Success    +  11

                              for the  Future
                              OSD is currently considering a number of key questions to help shape the
                              future of its environmental purchasing program. These questions include
                              how to consider multiple attributes, how to address issues inherent to pro-
                      curement reform, and how to maintain program interest and momentum.
                      Massachusetts hopes to find answers to these questions by looking at other local,
                      state, and federal government efforts as well as companies' experiences of purchas-
                      ing environmental products.

                      How  Can Multiple Attributes  Best Be

                        Massachusetts is committed to  expanding its environmental purchasing activities
                      beyond single-attribute products such as recycled-content plastic lumber. As previ-
                      ously described, the Commonwealth is currently purchasing recycled-content,
                      chlorine-free paper products, and recycled-content two-way envelopes that prevent
                      waste by eliminating the need for return envelopes. The state also is finalizing bid
                      specifications for cleaning products that will consider multiple attributes including
                      biodegradability, volatile organic compounds, skin and eye irritants, carcinogens,
                      and toxic ingredients. OSD continues to research ways to incorporate multiple
                      attributes into purchasing decisions on a case-by-case basis.  OSD understands that,
                      when multiple attributes are involved, it needs to determine which of them to con-
                      sider and when, as well as how to  prioritize them.

                      How  Will Procurement Reform Affect
                      Environmental Purchasing?

                        Recent changes in Massachusetts' procurement process are affecting the
                      Commonwealth's environmental purchasing efforts in two ways:

                         •   Statewide contracts are being consolidated into "mega" contracts, which
                             include broad specifications for thousands of items. The number of prod-
                             ucts covered under one contract will make it more difficult to ensure that
                             environmental criteria are specified for individual products.

                         •   Purchasing authority is being granted to more Commonwealth agencies
                             who are then able to solicit items through their own bids. Ensuring that all
                             buyers include environmental criteria in their purchasing decisions will be
                             more difficult because of the number of individuals involved.

                        As these changes take effect, OSD will need to increase its efforts to educate
                      purchasers, even though these efforts can be resource-intensive. OSD realizes that
                      challenges posed by future changes in procurement processes will need to be
                      addressed as well. OSD believes that education and outreach will continue to be an
                      important component of its environmental purchasing program.
12   +    Questions for the Future

How Will OSD Maintain Program Interest and

  Officials involved in the Massachusetts purchasing program acknowledge that
these programs typically require an investment of resources to sustain interest and
to inform and train purchasing staff. Although DEP has no plans to stop funding
the two environmental purchasing positions within OSD, the department originally
intended to become less involved over time, assuming that environmental expertise
would become institutionalized within the purchasing division. Some DEP officials,
however, are concerned about the program's continued viability without long-term
DEP involvement, given the promotional and training needs inherent in such vol-
untary programs.
                                                             Questions for the Future   +  13

       Helpful Tips From Massachusetts'  Experience
                      Although the Massachusetts program is still in its developmental stage, the insight
                      gained thus far by program managers can help other states, agencies, and businesses
                      seeking to incorporate environmental criteria into their purchasing process. Here
                are some tips:

                   •  Seek support and involvement from other agencies. One of the keys to the suc-
                      cess of the Massachusetts program is the cooperative arrangement among its
                      environmental  division, purchasing division, and executive environmental office.
                      When representatives from the three agencies meet to keep one another informed
                      of their efforts, both progress and objectives remain clear. Working together, and
                      with senior management support, these government agencies have been able to
                      ensure that environmental criteria are effectively incorporated into the purchasing

                   •  Look for opportunities for face-to-face interaction with purchasers. OSD
                      learned that fact sheets, guidebooks, and informational mailings, although useful,
                      are usually not as effective as a face-to-face conversation with a purchaser. OSD
                      staff members,  for example, met on several occasions with Massachusetts  Highway
                      Department personnel. That effort resulted in the Highway Department's decision
                      to buy recycled-content plastic lumber products and re-refined oil.

                   •  Use vendors' fairs to help spread the word about environmental purchasing.
                      OSD realized that its annual vendors' fair is an important element in
                      Massachusetts' environmentally preferable purchasing program. Vendors' fairs pro-
                      vide an opportunity for purchasers to talk directly to vendors about their
                      environmental  products. The fairs also increase the credibility of the products by
                      demonstrating  that a broad range of items are readily available from numerous
                      sources. Vendors' fairs create greater visibility and interest in the entire program.

                   •  Focus on education rather than requiring purchasers to buy certain products.
                      Massachusetts focused on making products with environmental attributes available
                      and encouraged people to use them through marketing and education. OSD found
                      that a satisfied customer is the best marketing tool. The Massachusetts Highway
                      Department, for example, is currently promoting environmental products to other
                      agencies because it is so pleased with the environmental products it purchased
                      through the Commonwealth's contracts. OSD relies on these kinds of success sto-
                      ries, as well as user testimonials and pilot tests, to show that the products  perform

                   •  Acknowledge  mistakes and take steps to remedy them. OSD acknowledges
                      that it is breaking new ground by trying to incorporate environmental criteria into
                      purchasing. When products do  not perform up to par, OSD tries to remedy the sit-
                      uation by investigating the cause of the product dissatisfaction and brokering a
                      relationship between the product vendor and the user to correct the problem.

                   •  Do not expect change overnight. Overcoming purchaser resistance takes time
                      and energy, but can be accomplished with persistent education, outreach, and the
                      willingness to be flexible.
14   +    Helpful Tips From Massachusetts' Experience

Opportunities  for Growth
                      OSD currently plans to add other products and product attributes to its envi-
                      ronmental purchasing program. OSD is considering the purchase of Energy
                      Star fax machines and copiers, in addition to computers and printers, and is
              in the process of writing specifications for cleaning products with environmental
              attributes. In addition, OSD hopes to expand its program to include products pur-
              chased indirectly through service contracts, which involves a far greater number of
              products than those purchased directly. Examples of indirect service providers include
              companies that offer cleaning or construction services.

                 As these efforts indicate, OSD and its cooperating agencies are committed to
              expanding the environmental purchasing program and look forward to future success-
              es in environmental procurement.
                                                          Opportunities for Growth   +   15

      For  More  Information
                        For more information about Massachusetts' environmentally preferable
                        purchasing program, visit the Commonwealth's home page on environmental
                        purchasing at . You also can
                          Eric Friedman
                          Environmental Purchasing Coordinator
                          Operational Services Division
                          One Ashburton Place, 10th Floor
                          Boston, MA 02108-1552
                          Phone: 617 727-7500, Ext. 351
                          Fax: 617 727-4527
                          E-mail: efriedman@state.ma.us
16  +   For More Information

We want to hear from you! Please tell us about your environmentally
preferable purchasing activities and efforts. We are collecting and shar-
ing information, tools, and hints about what works and what doesn't, as
environmentally preferable purchasing evolves and expands. Please con-
tact the EPP program by e-mail, regular mail, or fax:
                        Eun-Sook Goidel
           Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program
               U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                     401 M Street, SW (7409)
                      Washington, DC 20460

                  E-mail: goidel.eunsook@epa.gov
                        Fax: 202 260-0178