Berkeley, CA Green Purchasing Policy

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Berkeley, CA, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted in 2004

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By official policy, the City of Berkeley now considers environmental attributes when making its purchases. By approving one of the first environmentally preferable purchasing policies in Alameda County, the City continues its tradition of leading by example. The policy requires consideration of environmental factors such as energy efficiency, resource conservation, waste minimization, recycled content and toxicity when selecting vendors and products for its operations.

The adopted purchasing policy is based on a model developed by the Alameda County Waste Management Authority that guides government and business purchases. Following the City’s adoption of the Precautionary Principle in October 2003, the Precautionary Principle seeks to protect human health and the environment in its decision-making.

The catalyst for the Precautionary Principle and environmental purchasing derived from the on-going valuable contributions of the Women's Cancer Resource Center, Breast Cancer Action, Commonweal, Clean Water Fund, and the Ecology Center to the Ad Hoc Precautionary Principle Working Group that also includes members of four Berkeley commissions (Energy, Solid Waste, Community Environmental, and Community Health).

Adopting the policy builds on current practices, since the City has been incorporating environmentally friendly purchasing into their business practices for some time. “This new policy reaffirms the City's commitment to the environment and sustainable businesses,” says Tom Bates, Mayor of Berkeley. “Environmentally preferable purchasing helps us to further green our City government operations and at the same time, to support sustainable or green businesses, particularly local businesses.”

Like other cities in the Bay Area and across the country, department staff find that it costs no more to buy environmentally preferable products, and in some cases, costs less. Switching to safer, “green” cleaning products, for example, saves money because the products last longer while reducing incidents of allergic reactions, burns and eye damage associated with toxic chemicals used in many traditional cleaning products. “We thought the change would cost more money and take more time, and in fact, found quite the opposite,” says Rene Cardinaux, Director of Public Works.

For more information, contact Kate Squire or visit the Alameda County Waste Management Authority’s website at Fact Sheets on how and where to buy environmentally preferable products in Alameda County are available.

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