Frequently Asked Questions

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

What is Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP)?

The procurement of “…products and services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared to competing products and services that serve the same purpose.” Maryland’s EPP is administered by the Green Purchasing Committee (GPC). EPP may also be referred to as green purchasing or buying green.​

Why is Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Important?

As climate change continues to be a growing threat, the State of Maryland is actively pursuing a comprehensive strategy to reduce its climate impacts. Beyond the dollar costs that we see on a receipt, there are also societal costs associated with the things we buy. Greenhouse gas emissions, resource depletion, pollution, and impacts to public health may not be accounted for in our budget, but they matter too.​

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers about the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. It is illegal in the State of Maryland. ​

What are the Benefits of Environmentally Preferable Purchasing?

Environmental Benefits:
  • Climate protection (reducing GHG emissions), conserving natural resources, promoting biodiversity
  • Reduction of waste going to landfills and incinerators 
  • Prevention of toxic chemical releases into the environment (protecting local air/water quality) 
  • Conservation of natural resources 
Health Benefits:
  • Avoidance of toxic chemicals of concern to protect workers and building occupants as well as the general public 
  • Reduction in air and water pollution
Economic Benefits: 
  • Cost saving opportunities such as: 
    • Initial Cost Savings (e.g. reducing upfront costs by eliminating disposables, choosing remanufactured products) 
    • Lower Total Cost of Ownership (e.g. long-term savings through procurement of more efficient products)
  • Support the development of a green economy​

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing in Maryland

What is the State’s policy on Environmentally Preferable Purchasing?

All procurement agencies shall purchase environmentally preferable products and services unless purchasing environmentally preferable products and services would limit or supersede any requirements under any provision of law or result in the purchase of products and services that: 
  1. Do not perform adequately for the intended use; 
  2. Exclude adequate competition; or 
  3. Are not available at a reasonable price in a reasonable period of time.” Maryland Regulation​

What qualifies as an environmentally preferable product or service in Maryland?

A product or service that throughout the full life cycle of the product or service: 
  • is energy efficient, water efficient, bio-based, non-ozone depleting, made with recycled content, or nontoxic; 
  • or has other attributes recognized as environmentally preferable by the GPC 
Maryland’s State Finance & Procurement Article §14-410 

Maryland’s approved environmental standards for products and services can be found here​

What does the Maryland Green Purchasing Committee Do?

Established in 2010 by the Green Maryland Act, the Maryland Green Purchasing Committee is an inter-agency organization that administers Maryland’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program. In order to promote EPP in the State, the GPC: 
  • Conducts trainings
  • Develops policies and guidelines 
  • Coordinates with State agencies, vendors, and third-party organizations
  • Publishes specifications
  • Reports annually to the legislature 
Take a look at our Annual Report for more information. Contact the GPC​ with questions. ​

Guidance for Procurement Officers

How do I Integrate Green Purchasing into Procurements?

If you’re not sure how to integrate green purchasing into your existing procurement processes, first review the Step-by-Step Guide to Green Purchasing​.Review the GPC’s webpage for Procurement Officers for additional information and resources.​

How do I green a contract?

  • Include the GPC specification GPC specification if available for your product or service category. If there is no GPC product or service specification, use the general specification to ensure that relevant laws, statutes, and regulations are referenced in your procurement.
    • Use the Green Purchasing Checklist​ to keep track of what specifications currently exist for the various product and service categories. 
    • Contact GPC staff for additional information
  • Add Green Items to the Bid List 
    • ​Work with GPC staff to add green items directly to the bid list. 
  • Require evidence of environmental claims to prevent greenwashing.​

What are the reporting requirements that I need to include in solicitations?

Reporting allows the State to monitor for compliance, guard against greenwashing, and track progress. Procurement officers may edit the following language and replace the highlighted text to fit needs: 

The State of Maryland requires the Contractor to submit at a minimum quarterly sales data over the life of this contract per a schedule established and deemed reasonable by both parties, or by request of the Department of General Services. This information must include details about the recycled content, third-party sustainability certifications, and other environmental attributes of products and services sold on this Contract per the contract specifications. The Contractor must notify the State if a product contains mercury. To facilitate consistent reporting on this contract, the Contractor will be provided with a CONTRACTOR GREEN SALES REPORT template from the Green Purchasing Committee (GPC), the Office of State Procurement (OSP) or the Department of General Services (DGS). 

Procurement officers may reference and attach the GPC's standard reporting template​ in the solicitation.​

How do I (or the State) know which of the offered products are green?

Require the vendors to label their products when submitting their bids in order to: 
  1. ensure product requirements are met; 
  2. identify all the environmental attributes of the product; 
  3. promote the green products to purchasers.
    In your bid sheets, add extra columns for environmental attributes that are required and a column for other environmental attributes. A sample bid sheet may look like this:

These sheets can then be used to create environmentally preferable purchasing guide​s.

What if a product on an existing contract is not compliant with the green requirements or with regulatory/statutory requirements?

If a product claims to be green but is not, inform the vendor immediately. Work with the vendor to block non-compliant products.​

Guidance for Vendors

What am I required to do in regards to Environmentally Preferable Purchasing?

The State of Maryland is required to buy green whenever practicable, which means that vendors need to offer green products on their contracts. Review your contract documents to ensure your product and service offerings are in compliance with Maryland state laws, statutes, and regulations and GPC specifications. Don’t forget - greenwashing is illegal in Maryland. In your solicitation, you will have to sign an affidavit acknowledging the following: 

​“A bidder or offeror for a procurement contract shall certify in writing that any claims of environmental attributes made relating to a product or service are consistent with the Federal Trade Commission’s Guidelines for the Use of Environmental Marketing Terms.” 

Maryland’s State Finance & Procurement Article §14–410​

How can I verify my products' environmental attributes and avoid greenwashing?

There are several different methods to verify a product’s environmental attributes:​
  1. Check the Environmental Certifications’ product registry which is available on their website. Examples of registries from commonly used certifiers are provided below:
  2. Check Ecomedes​ for your product. Ecomedes is an environmental certification aggregator which will identify ALL the certifications that a product currently has.

  3. Ask the manufacturer for information on a product’s environmental certifications and attributes.​

How do I promote my green products and services?

If you have an existing contract with the State, work with the GPC to develop green purchasing guides for your products and services. This will allow us to promote your green products and services to State purchasers. 

If you are bidding on a new contract, make sure green products and services are clearly labeled on your bid sheet. This will allow the State to easily identify green offerings by the vendor. Once awarded, work with the GPC to develop a green purchasing guide. ​

What am I required to report on?

The State requires the submission of quarterly purchasing reports in the following categories: 
  • Appliances 
  • Construction & Maintenance products 
  • Electronic & IT Products 
  • Food Service Ware
  • Janitorial Supplies 
  • Lighting Products 
  • Office Supplies 
  • Paints & Coatings 
​Data submissions MUST include the environmental certifications and attributes of products by line item. The reporting template and deadlines can be found on the GPC webpage for Vendors​

Note: To ensure consistent reporting,please use universal product codes for ite​m

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