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ecolabels

EPA Issues Draft Guidelines for Greener Buying

ecolabelsThe EPA has issued a set of draft criteria to help the federal government identify and buy greener and safer products.

The draft guidelines, which will be subject to a 90-day pubic comment period once they’re published in the Federal Register, propose a process to make it easier for federal purchasers to determine which products are sustainable and which ones are not. Federal agencies are mandated to ensure that 95 percent of their purchases are sustainable.

The guidelines for standards and ecolabels would not be applied to products directly. And they are not designed to discontinue or diminish the purchase of products that conform to government standards and ecolabels, the EPA says.

The guidelines are not a one-size-fits-all-approach. To address differences among sectors, the EPA has proposed a more flexible approach that would, for example, institute a baseline and leadership guideline. The draft baseline guidelines would align with federal goals and the leadership guidelines would represent best practices that are currently achievable by some standards and ecolabels.

The EPA has also proposed a pilot program, if funds are available, to test a standards and ecolabels assessment. During the pilot, a third-party entity would work with stakeholders to develop product category-specific programs to assess conformity of standards and ecolabels with the guidelines.

The guidelines, developed by the EPA,  General Services Administration and other agencies, could also indirectly impact the consumer by spurring the private sector to use and demand safer and greener products, the EPA says.

The GSA, the federal government “landlord” that manages 9,600 buildings, exceeded its fiscal year 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target, reducing emissions by more than 35 percent from 2008 levels, and reached its other sustainability benchmarks for longer term targets, according to its Office of Management and Budget 2013 Sustainability and Energy Scorecard.

The EPA also is meeting its own sustainability targets. The departments of Energy, Interior, Agriculture and State, NASA, the Social Security Administration and the Smithsonian Institution are among the agencies that are on target for at least five of seven performance categories. Federal agencies less on track include the departments of Commerce, Treasury, Veteran Affairs, and Defense, according to the 25 agency scorecards.

Image Credit: ecolabels by Anita Ponne/Shutterstock

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