Environmentally Preferred Purchasing Policy (EPPP)


Environmentally preferred purchasing means products or services that have a reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared to competing products or services that serve the same purpose. Environmentally preferred purchasing considers both cost and the environmental impacts of a product or service.

The success of an environmentally preferred purchasing program is dependent on the collective effort and commitment of all City staff who are involved with the procurement of goods and services.

The purpose of this policy is to support the purchase of recycled and environmentally preferred products in order to minimize environmental impacts relating to City work. The Purchasing Division recognizes COSA employees can make a difference in favor of environmental quality. The aim of the Environmentally Preferred Purchasing Policy is to prompt all City staff involved in the procurement of goods and services to use environmental responsibility as a factor in their purchasing decisions. The Environmentally Preferred Policy addresses:

  • Office supplies/equipment
  • Cleaning and landscaping supplies
  • Water and energy conservation products
  • Printing and mail supplies, including paper products
  • Other (such as Food Service Contracts and Meeting Facility Standards)

These preferred products will be purchased using the guidance and certification of the following organizations:

  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
  • Green Seal
  • Energy Star
  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)


Recycling- means the processing of used or waste material so that it can be used again, instead of being wasted.

Contractor- means any person, group of persons, consultant, designing architect, association, partnership, corporation, or other business entity (including a supplier) that has a contract with the City of San Antonio or serves in a subcontracting capacity with an entity having a contract with the City of San Antonio for the provision of goods or services.

Designated Products- means recycled and environmentally preferable products and materials designated by the Purchasing Division and all City departments pursuant to this policy.

Environmentally Preferred Products- means products that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products that serve the same purpose. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, or disposal of the product.

Minimum Content Standards- means standards maintained by the Purchasing Agency and the respected department specifying the minimum level of recovered material and/or post-consumer material necessary for designated products to qualify as recycled products.

Post-Consumer Material- means a material or finished product that has served its intended use and has been discarded for disposal or recovery, having completed its life as a consumer item. "Post-consumer material" is a part of the broader category of "recovered material."

Practicable- means satisfactory in performance and available at a fair and reasonable price.

Price-Preference- means a percentage of increase in price the City of San Antonio will pay to obtain a designated product.

Recovered Material- means waste material and by-products which have been recovered or diverted from solid waste, but do not include those materials and by-products generated from, and commonly reused within, an original manufacturing process.

Recycled Paper- means paper meeting the City of San Antonio’s minimum 30% post consumer recycled content.

Recycled Product- means a product manufactured using recovered material and meeting the City of San Antonio’s Minimum Recycled Content Standards.


The City shall acquire its goods and services in a manner that complies with federal, state, city laws and other requirements (e.g. City resolutions). The City shall purchase and use materials, products and services which are fiscally responsible, reduce resource consumption and waste, promote opportunities to lesser advantaged segments of the community, perform adequately, and promote human health and well-being.

Environmental factors to be considered in selecting products with provisions about specific chemicals (e.g. avoiding volatile organic compounds or harsh solvents/abrasives when possible) to include:

  • Goods and services which can be manufactured, used, and disposed of in an environmentally responsible way
  • Manufactured with a high recycled content
  • Recycled or reused
  • Lower energy usage/cost of operating equipment prior to purchase
  • Employ suppliers that are committed to environmental improvement
  • Reduced ‘whole life’ costs and impacts when assessing equipment

Fiscal factors to be considered include but are not limited to:

  • Lowest total cost
  • Leveraging City buying power
  • Impact on staff time and labor
  • Long-term financial/market changes
  • Technological advances in a rapidly changing market

City departments shall use, where feasible, products that perform and have the least damaging/most beneficial environmental impact, including new environmentally preferred products, reusable products, recycled content, and recycled products. Recognizing the City’s role as a major purchaser of goods and services, the City shall seek opportunities to encourage and influence markets for environmentally preferable products through employee education, supporting pilot testing of potential new products, adopting innovative product standards and specifications and contracts, leveraging city-wide buying expertise, and embarking on cooperative ventures with other jurisdictions. All departments shall use, and require their contractors and consultants to use, products manufactured with the maximum practicable amount of recovered material, especially post-consumer material. Several contracts have been awarded which provide energy efficiency and green products, such as alternative fueled vehicles and equipment, recycled paper products, and office supplies.

Department Responsibilities

  • Evaluate each recycled or environmentally preferred product to determine the extent to which the product may be practicably used by the department
  • Ensure that contracts issued by City departments require recycled and environmentally preferred products whenever practicable
  • Ensure that all printing by departments use recycled paper and bears the chasing arrow logo or other imprint identifying it as such; follow Forest Stewardship Council guidelines
  • Ensure that requests for bids and proposals issued by the City require that contractors and consultants use recycled paper and both sides of the paper sheets whenever practicable
  • Use both sides of paper sheets whenever practicable in printing and copying
  • Report total purchases of environmentally preferred, recycled, and non-recycled products by department annually to the Purchasing Division and the Office of Sustainability
  • Develop, evaluate, and maintain information about environmentally preferred and/or recycled products containing the maximum practical amount of recycled materials. Cross-feed information to other departments/divisions when potential use of a product exists
  • Develop specifications used in public bidding aimed at eliminating barriers to purchasing recycled content products, such as outdated or overly stringent products specifications and specifications not related to product performance
  • Ensure that procurement documents issued by the department require environmentally preferred alternatives whenever practical
  • Educate and promote this policy through appropriate staff and maintain documentation of successes, pitfalls, changes, etc.

Purchasing Division Responsibilities

  • Provide departments with information to facilitate their evaluation and purchase of designated products and inform them of their responsibilities under this policy
  • Revise minimum content standards as necessary to ensure that designated products contain the maximum practicable amount of recovered material and are consistent with guidelines and regulations promulgated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Texas, and other federal and state agencies
  • Ensure that environmentally preferable products are designated whenever practicable
  • Work in conjunction with the Office of Sustainability (OS) to transmit minimum content standards to departments
  • Assign appropriate personnel to evaluate each designated product to determine the extent to which it may be practicably used by the department and its contractors
  • Seek opportunities to cooperate with other jurisdictions to enhance markets for environmentally preferred products, to obtain favorable prices, and to reduce waste packaging and product by combining purchases/contracting for the same or similar precuts and promoting the use of recycled content products, recyclable products, and other environmentally preferred precuts to a potential vendor to the City by publicizing their availability
  • Encourage vendors to offer alternative environmentally friendly products in their offerings to the City
  • Ensure that environmentally preferable paper products such as 35% post-consumer recycled content paper is used when providing print services to the various City departments or include FSC certification fiber to preserve forest lands made with process chlorine-free (PCF) or elemental chlorine free (ECF) pulps uncoated papers; coated papers yield very little recyclable fiber

Office of Sustainability (OS) Responsibilities

  • Provide education and technical assistance
  • Develop tools for disseminating information to City staff about:
    • Reusable, recycled content, recyclable, and otherwise environmentally preferred products
    • Vendors and City contracts for such products
    • User groups
    • Opportunities to test and discuss new products

The Purchasing Division and the Office of Sustainability shall coordinate with departments to collect data for performance tracking and evaluation of the City’s environmentally responsible purchasing program, compile records for the purpose of producing an annual summary of the City’s environmentally preferred purchasing actions, and for evaluating the effectiveness of these actions in reducing the environmental impacts of City procurement.

Green Markets Initiative

Nothing in the EPPP shall be construed as requiring a department to procure products that perform inadequately for their intended use or are unavailable at a reasonable price within a reasonable period of time. Nothing contained in this policy shall preclude departments from requiring recycled material content as a bid specification. However, it is strongly encouraged for departments to utilize products that are environmentally friendly, recycled, and/or beneficial to the environment. Reports from departments will provide information for summations of implementation of this policy. The report will require reasons for any non-adherence to this policy.