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
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
What are the Benefits of Environmentally Preferable Purchasing?
- Climate protection (reducing GHG emissions), conserving natural resources,
- Reduction of waste going to landfills and incinerators
- Prevention of toxic chemical releases into the environment (protecting local
- Conservation of natural resources
- Avoidance of toxic chemicals of concern to protect workers and building
occupants as well as the general public
- Reduction in air and water pollution
- 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:
- Do not perform adequately for the intended use;
- Exclude adequate competition; or
- Are not available at a reasonable price in a reasonable period of time.”
Maryland Regulation 21.11.07.09
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
Guidance for Procurement Officers
How do I Integrate Green Purchasing into Procurements?
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
- 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).
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:
- ensure product requirements are met;
- identify all the environmental attributes of the
- 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 guides.
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:
Check Ecomedes for your product. Ecomedes is an environmental certification
aggregator which will identify ALL the certifications that a product currently has.
- Check the Environmental Certifications’ product registry which is available on their
website. Examples of registries from commonly used certifiers are provided below:
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:
- 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 item