Issue  16 |  November  2005
                                        ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERABLE PURCHASING
EPEAT Strives to
Simplify Procurement
Expanding the
Biobased Product
Shopping List
READ Services
New Rule to Make
Mercury Disposal
Composting at USDA
                          EPEAT  Strives to  Simplify  Green
                          Purchasing  of  Computers
     These days, when an organization
     needs to purchase electronic
     products, it will likely seek out
"greener" versions of the items, such as
those that have been refurbished or use
less energy. To help support this grow-
ing trend, the Electronic Product
Environmental Assessment  Tool
(EPEAT) is being developed through an
EPA cooperative agreement with Zero
Waste Alliance. EPEAT is designed to
evaluate the environmental perfor-
mance of computer desktops, laptops,
and monitors throughout
their life cycle, and
includes both a set of cri-
teria for assessing products
and a management system
for their application and
maintenance. Currently,
the EPEAT program is
working to identify a host
organization to manage
and operate the tool; con-
ducting a public review of
the final draft of the envi-
ronmental performance
criteria; and developing a
database that vendors can
use to submit self declara-
tions and purchasers can
use to view lists of EPEAT
qualified products.

EPEAT Standard
  The EPEAT standard is a
rating system that includes
performance criteria in eight
categories: 1) reduction/
                                                              elimination of environmentally sensitive
                                                              materials; 2) materials selection (includ-
                                                              ing recycled and biobased content); 3)
                                                              design for end-of-life; 4) life-cycle
                                                              extension; 5) energy conservation
                                                              (including ENERGY STAR® require-
                                                              ments); 6) end-of-life management; 7)
                                                              corporate performance; and 8) packag-
                                                              ing. Federal purchasers using this stan-
                                                              dard will be guaranteed to meet their
                                                              green purchasing requirements for
                                                              these product categories. The standard
                                                              is currently in draft form and is slated
                                                              to be finalized by spring 2006. Federal
                                                                              < Continued on page 2 >
                          If you choose to print this newsletter, please print it on paper containing at least 50 percent postconsumer fiber.

Preferable Purchasing
(EPP) seeks the overall
best value, taking into
account price competi-
tiveness, regulatory
requirements, perfor-
mance standards, and
environmental impact.
Because purchasers typi-
cally have clear sources
of information on pro-
curement  and safety
regulations and well-
established methods for
evaluating price and
performance, the U.S.
EPA EPP program has
developed the EPP
Update to help govern-
ment purchasers
consider the  environ-
mental factors in the
EPP equation and to
keep purchasers
informed of EPP  news.
For more information
about the EPP program's
history, tools, and
resources, please visit
                                           < Continued from page 1 >
agencies that signed the Federal
Electronics Challenge MOU were
invited to vote on the current stan-

  Recently, EPA conducted a beta
test of the EPEAT database—a Web-
based interface for product informa-
tion in which manufacturers had the
ability to test the system by entering
"dummy data" on fictitious prod-
ucts. Purchasers then had a week to
surf the database and review the
site's available data. After this test
period, both manufacturers and
purchasers provided comments on
the usability of the system. The
database will be revised based on
these comments and then passed on
to the new EPEAT host organization.
Federal IT Specifications
 To date, the following agencies have
 added EPEAT into their RFPs or
 contracts: the U.S. Army, U.S.
 Department of Veterans Affairs,
 Department of Homeland Security,
 Department of Energy, Department
 of the Interior, and EPA.
 For more information on EPEAT,
 please visit  or
 contact Holly Elwood at

Expanding  the  Biobased
Product  Shopping  List
     Six items made from biobased products will
     soon be given preference for federal purchas-
     es as part of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's (USDAs) implementation of the Farm
Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, better
known as the Farm Bill.
  USDA is proposing an amendment to the January
2005 "Guidelines for Designating Biobased
Products for Federal Procurement," which estab-
lished a preference program for procuring biobased
products.  A biobased product is any commercial or
industrial product (other than food or feed) that is
composed, in whole or in significant part, of bio-
logical products, renewable domestic agricultural
materials (including plant, animal, and marine
materials), or forestry materials. The amendment
will designate six items for federal procurement
preference, including:
  •  Mobile equipment hydraulic fluids
  •  Urethane roof coatings
  •  Water tank coatings
  •  Diesel fuel additives
  •  Penetrating lubricants
  •  Bedding, bed linens, and towels
  The amendment will also define the minimum
biobased content for each item and provide
information on life-cycle costs and environ-
mental impacts for each item, estimated
with the Building for Environmental and
Economic Sustainability (BEES) life cycle
analysis tool developed by the National
Institute of Standards and Technology.
  Based on the 2005 guidelines, federal
agencies must give preference to purchasing
goods with biobased content when practi-
cal,  based on price, availability, and perfor-
mance. Federal agencies have one year from
the  publication of the rule to ensure that
their procurement specifications require a
preference for the biobased products.
  The biobased products procurement program
was originally authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill,
which provided for significant changes to the types
of products purchased by the federal government,
and subsequently will make it easier for federal
customers to purchase biobased products. This
program is similar to EPAs Comprehensive
Procurement Guidelines (CPG), which address the
acquisition of products containing recycled materi-
als. Ultimately, the biobased products program will
promote energy independence by substituting
biobased products for fossil energy-based products,
as well as create demand for new business and job
growth in rural America.
  In the future, USDA will continue to expand the
list of products eligible for its biobased products
program, allowing manufacturers of those products
to claim preferred procurement status when mar-
keting their products to the federal government.
USDA will also be issuing a proposed rule to estab-
lish a voluntary biobased products labeling and
certification program, which will allow authorized
producers to use a "USDA Certified Biobased
Product" label.
  For more information, visit
 or contact Jim Darr
at  or (202) 564-8841.

Point,   Click,   READ,   Recycle
      Anew program is helping EPA and other feder-
      al agencies better manage their electronic
      equipment. The Recycling Electronics and
Asset Disposition (READ) services program is a pro-
curement tool to assist agencies in properly managing
electronic inventories and in recycling and disposing
of excess or obsolete electronics using an environ-
mentally responsible approach.
  Computers and other office electronics are  essential
to most jobs, but many federal employees don't real-
ize how many of these products are purchased—and
                             eventually need to
Recycling a

  A typical computer
monitor contains six poun<
of lead, as well as varying
amounts of cadmium,
chromium, mercury, and
beryllium. When a
computer is recycled,
normally the hardware is
de-manufactured, although
some usable parts may be
removed for reuse. The de-
manufactured material is
sorted by commodity type
(such as steel, aluminum,
copper, plastic) and then
either re-used to make new
products or disposed of in
an environmentally friendly
manner. This approach helps
protect the environment by
reducing the amount of
material that goes to
landfills or incinerators, and
it may also minimize the
need for raw materials in
product manufacturing.
                             be disposed of—
                             by their agencies.
                             many do not real-
                             ize that the life
                             cycle of electron-
                             ics—from manu-
                             facture to
                             have considerable
                             impact on the
                             environment. The
                             problem is exac-
                             erbated by the
                             fact that many
                             electronics have
                             short life spans
                             due to rapid
                             changes in tech-
                             EPA initiated the
                             READ services
                             program to try to
                             address some of
                             these issues. To
                             make the program
                             accessible to all
                             federal agencies
                             across the coun-
try, READ is
being adminis-
tered under a
acquisition con-
tract (GWAC).
EPA has issued
five-year multiple
award contracts
to seven small
Under the
contracts, the
companies will evaluate each piece of equipment and
its components, and then will reuse, recycle, or dis-
pose of them using the following hierarchy:
  1. Re furbish and resell them, using the proceeds to
   offset costs.
  2.Donate them to charitable causes.
  3.Recycle as much as possible.
  4.Properly dispose of the remainder.
  The READ GWAC is expected to yield the follow-
ing benefits:
  • Provide an effective contract vehicle for address-
   ing the proper disposition of federal electronic
   equipment in an environmentally responsible
  • Ensure appropriate levels of security for sensitive
   electronic data contained in obsolete equipment.
  • Create an audit trail of the equipment's final des-
   tination to ensure  that reclamation and recycling
   efforts are reportable.
  • Establish a means to realize value and maximize
   potential revenues from electronic equipment in
  What can EPA expect? The program is only in the
early stages, but with 2 million federal employees
using computers, EPA estimates that there is an aver-
age discard/obsolete rate of 10,000 computers per

Items Covered by

  • Desktop PCs
  • Computer monitors
  • Laptop PCs
  • Facsimile machines
  • Printers
  • Copiers
  • Shredders
  • Scanners
  • Cellular phones
  • Televisions
  • Miscellaneous
week. The READ
services goal is
to recycle half of
that number.
Initially, the pro-
gram expects to
recycle approxi-
mately 3,000 to
4,000 computers
per week and
increase that
number as agen-
cies become
familiar with the
Over the next
five years, EPA is
aiming for the
following bench-
  • A 10 percent annual increase in the ratio of
    recycled and/or reused items as com-
    pared to total volume of electronic
    items received.
  • A 10 percent average annual
    increase in cost savings over the
    first three contract years.
  • 30 agencies/departments taking
    advantage of the GWAC after
    the first three contract years.
  For more information on the
READ services program, please
contact Oliver Voss at
Examples of Mercury-
   Flow meters
   Temperature gauges
   Pressure gauges
   Mercury car switches
   Water temperature gauges
New  Rule  to  Make
Mercury  Disposal   Easier
  In August 2005, EPA officially
  designated mercury-containing
  equipment as universal waste
in hopes of facilitating easier dis-
posal and recycling of mercury.
Streamlined management
requirements are expected to
provide flexibility and allow
more mercury to be diverted
away from municipal landfills
and incinerators. The new uni-
versal waste rule is estimated to
affect 1,877 small and large quantity
generators, such as medical facilities
and salvage yards, that handle up to
550 tons of mercury-containing
  A wide variety of items found in
cars, homes, industrial tools, and
electric utilities are considered
mercury-containing equipment (see
sidebar). If not properly disposed of,
any device or part of a device that
contains elemental mercury is poten-
tially hazardous.
    The intention of redefining mer-
cury-containing equipment as uni-
versal waste under the RCRA
hazardous waste program is to
encourage more comprehensive col-
lection and recycling of mercury
waste from these products.
Previously, mercury-containing
equipment was subject to stringent
recordkeeping, storage, and trans-
portation requirements. Due to the
strict procedures, households or
small businesses simply throw these
items in the garbage where they are
lost among municipal trash.
Ultimately, the toxic materials are
either released in landfills or emitted
into the air during incineration.
                                                                     Universal waste guidelines, already
                                                                    in place for other products such as
                                                                    batteries and lamps, are designed to
                                                                    encourage local governments, com-
                                                                    munities, and retailers to participate
                                                                    in responsible disposal of these
                                                                    items. Universal waste rules are
                                                                    specifically tailored to individual
                                                                    types of waste. The new regulations
                                                                    for mercury-containing equipment
                                                                    allow for greater flexibility in collec-
                                                                    tion, storage, transportation, and
                                                                    general management procedures.
                                                                    However, final disposal and recy-
                                                                    cling of mercury is still conduct-
                                                                    ed according to federal
                                                                    regulations for hazardous waste.
                                                                     EPAs analysis shows that cat-
                                                                    egorizing mercury-containing
                                                                    waste under the universal
                                                                    waste rule will improve col-
                                                                    lection and consolidation of
                                                                    mercury waste and ulti-
                                                                    mately reduce mercury
                                                                     For more information
                                                                    on EPA's universal
                                                                    waste rules, please visit
 Composting  Food  and  Forks
     Employees eating lunch in the Whitten
     Cafeteria at USDA headquarters in
     Washington, B.C. recently found themselves
throwing their leftover food, along with plates,
bowls, knives, and napkins, into compost bins. It
was all part of USDAS first official pilot test for
biobased products and continuing efforts to imple-
ment purchasing provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill
(Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002).
  The two-month long program was launched at a
ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 12, 2005, host-
ed by USDA Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner and
Assistant Secretary for Administration Michael
James Harrison. The overall goal of the pilot was to
assess the practicality of biobased cafeteriaware and
support  the developing biobased product industry.
  Under the pilot program, employees were direct-
ed to dispose of all biobased products (see box at
right) into designated compost containers, which
were taken to the USDA composting facility in
Beltsville, Maryland. The composted materials were
then used as fertilizer at the USDA plant testing
facilities, saving costs for soil enrichment. USDA
will be assessing the life-cycle costs as part of the
final evaluation of the program.
  Even the small-scale pilot project has had a pro-
nounced effect on production demand for biobased
suppliers and market development for biobased
products. USDA noted that a critical part of the pro-
  The following products
were all composted at the
Whitten Cafeteria during
the pilot program:
   Trash Bags
gram's success was
advanced planning
and securing sup-
pliers for the
biobased food ser-
vice products.
  The program
was originally
scheduled for one
month, but was
extended to two
months to more
strongly support
the effort to inte-
grate biobased
products into
mainstream use. Many people took notice of the
unique benefits of biobased products, and feedback
was positive, according to USDA officials responsi-
ble for the pilot. "I think it's done a great job raising
awareness,"  said Juliette McCarthy of the USDA
Office  of the Secretary.
  Others outside USDA also took notice. EPA has
expressed interest in developing a similar program,
as have other agencies. Large-scale partnerships
among government agencies have the potential to
make significant impacts on biobased product pur-
chasing. For more information please contact Juliet
McCarthy at .

Pollution Prevention and Toxics
(7409 M)

EPA 742-N-05-002
November 2005