U.S. Government Will Further Leverage Procurement Power to Advance American-made Sustainable Products and Services, Save Taxpayer Dollars, and Build Resilient Supply Chains
WASHINGTON –Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced its latest step to leverage the Federal Government’s procurement power to create good-paying union jobs, advance American innovation, and build sustainable Federal supply chains. The proposed Sustainable Products and Services procurement rule will help achieve President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions from Federal procurement by 2050 by modernizing existing sustainable purchasing standards to help ensure the world’s single largest purchaser prioritizes American-made sustainable products and services.
“President Biden believes that when we spend American taxpayers’ dollars, we should be investing in America, reducing costs, and building a more sustainable future,” said Brenda Mallory, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Through today’s action, we are doing just that. Combined with President Biden’s Buy American directive, our proposed rule will boost Federal agency purchases of EPA-recommended green products and services while creating well-paying jobs and investing in American manufacturing.”
“For over 50 years, the Federal government has played a leading role in promoting innovation, creating jobs, reducing emissions, and shaping markets through its sustainable purchasing requirements,” said Christine Harada, Office of Federal Procurement Policy Senior Advisor. “We are proud to continue to be a global leader in sustainability purchasing. The United Nations Environment Programme recently categorized the U.S. Government’s implementation of sustainable public procurement policies and practices as ‘the highest possible status to achieve’ — noting that the United States is the only country ever to achieve this status. We look forward to continuing to building on this progress.”
The Sustainable Products and Services procurement rule, a proposal through the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council, strengthens existing sustainable products requirements by directing Federal buyers to purchase sustainable products and services to the maximum extent possible. In particular, it directs agencies to follow EPA’s Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing, which provides recommendations across 34 purchase categories for use of 40 standards and labels, including labels such as EPA’s ENERGY STAR, Safer Choice, and WaterSense programs. The proposal also protects public health by directing agencies to avoid the procurement of products containing perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals, known as “forever chemicals.”
EPA’s Federal Purchasing Recommendations include thousands of American-made products and services that address energy or water efficiency, PFAS reduction or elimination, bio-based content, recycled content, ozone-safe substances, and more. In 2021 alone, the Federal Government’s purchase of more than 43 million EPEAT-registered electronics is estimated to have saved taxpayers around $2 billion in energy costs over the lifetime of those products. Further, these EPEAT-certified purchases avoided carbon emissions equal to those produced to power over four million households annually, as compared to purchase of non-EPEAT registered electronics.
In conjunction with today’s action, EPA announced it will perform an assessment of labels and standards and potentially expand its Federal Purchasing Recommendations across the following existing and new purchase categories: healthcare, laboratories, professional services, food service ware, and uniforms and clothing.
“With the expansion of EPA’s Recommendations in these new product categories, Federal buyers are further encouraged to make environmentally and health-conscious purchasing decisions,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “By catalyzing federal sustainable procurement, consumers benefit from goods and services that are safer for both their families and our planet. This proposed rule builds on other bold efforts by the Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize responsible, sustainable trade and reduce pollution at its source.”
Today’s action is a part of President Biden’s Federal Sustainability Plan, which set a goal to achieve net-zero emissions from Federal procurement by 2050. The Federal Government spends more than $630 billion on products and services annually, and over one third of existing Federal contracts contain a sustainable purchasing requirement. By increasing the purchase of sustainable products and services, the Biden-Harris Administration is working to reduce the emissions associated with the Federal supply chain, which are estimated to be more than twice as large as the emissions from operating the Federal Government’s buildings and vehicles combined.
“As the world’s largest buyer, we have a responsibility to lead by example and accelerate the move toward buying clean,” said Robin Carnahan, Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration. “Across the country, American businesses are ready to meet this moment with innovative products and services that translate into good jobs, reduced energy costs to taxpayers, and a healthier planet—and that’s a triple win.”
From spurring the market for recycled paper in the 1970s to making ENERGY STAR a household name, for over 50 years the Federal Government has played a leading role in promoting innovation, creating jobs, reducing emissions, and shaping markets through its sustainable purchasing requirements.
U.S. sustainability purchasing requirements are considered world class, often serving as a model by other large organizations. The United Nations Environment Programme recently categorized the U.S. Government’s implementation of sustainable public procurement policies and practices as “the highest possible status to achieve,” noting that the United States as the only country ever to achieve this status.
The proposed Sustainable Products and Services procurement rule will be open for public comment for 60 days via Federal Register docket FAR-2022-0006 at www.regulations.gov.