HP's Green Procurement Guide

This white paper examines some general principles for developing environmental procurement criteria for information technology (IT) products and services.

TabletAs sustainability goals become increasingly important to organizations, HP recommends some broad principles to ensure that procurement guidelines are useful, fair, understandable, and environmentally and economically viable for suppliers. We recommend that procurement guidance be based on the following principles: 

Fairness and equitability—Procurement criteria should be fair and equitable, and consider environmental aspects throughout the life cycles of different product options. Green procurement should not be viewed as a vehicle to favor certain goods and/or services. Rather, procurement criteria should ensure fair treatment for all suppliers.

Harmonization and recognition of international standards—Numerous environmental standards exist in the global marketplace. HP supports the general harmonization of the various standards and procurement schemes, particularly in the development of criteria, tools and testing methodologies. 

Material restrictions—HP supports eco-label and green procurement criteria that restrict the use of certain substances and materials from use when they are scientifically proven to be a risk through recognized and published studies, restricted by internationally recognized laws, or when a  technically feasible alternative exists that has shown  to be safer for use and has lesser impact on the  environment throughout the product life cycle. 

Prioritization—The nature of the procuring organization, and the type and quantity of products purchased, determine the environmental impact associated with the procurement activity. For the criteria to deliver benefit, it should be derived from the overall environmental priorities of the procuring organization. Organizations drafting procurement criteria will benefit most from aligning criteria with the overall environmental priorities of the organization and from prioritizing green procurement specifications, based on good science and with a focus on the areas of greatest risk for the procuring organization. Procurement criteria that cite a maximum number of requirements and that are rated with the same level of importance risk rejecting many environmentally viable products that would otherwise meet the majority of criteria, but which fail on one minor point. 

Measurability and verifiability—Environmental criteria should be used only if they are:  

• Measurable—refer to an existing standard 

• Comparable—allow comparison between competing products 

• Verifiable by the purchaser 

Examples of verification methods include confirmation from the supplier, self-declaration, and second- or third-party declaration. HP prefers programs in which producers self-certify and self-declare, but supports a number of eco-label programs. Many standards already operate effectively on a system of self-certification, where producers document their conformance through submittals or record-keeping (for example, Germany’s Blue Angel). A trail of auditable documents ensures conformance can be enforced. Appropriate weighting should be assigned to the environmental section in the tender. The weighting should reflect the procuring organization’s priorities and is likely to differ from one procuring organization to another.  Advising suppliers on these priorities and weighting is recommended, as this will help them assess and improve their environmental performance.  

Process transparency—To ensure the environmental procurement program has realistic goals and expectations, HP recommends that the procuring organization engage in dialogue with the suppliers  and other interested stakeholders. Transparent processes and discussion with stakeholders will  give the procuring organization a clearer picture  of what is happening in the marketplace and  should help assess the impact, measurability and  options associated with specific environmental  performance criteria. 

Compliance verification—In principle, there are two ways to verify compliance—self-declarations and  eco-labels. 

• Self-declarations are self-declared environmental claims as defined in ISO 14021. HP prefers self-declarations that support the June 2009 International ECMA-370 standard. 

• Eco-labels are voluntary third-party systems that include a contractual relationship with an independent eco-label organization. At present, HP supports many eco-labels, including the U.S.  EPEAT®-graded eco-label for personal computers and monitors, the TCO eco-label for monitors and German Blue Angel for select imaging equipment products. In some Asian and Pacific countries, eco-labels are a requirement for conducting business with the public sector. 

This e-guide outlines some of the most commonly used sustainable procurement criteria for IT products, as well as HP’s recommendations for specifying the criteria that comply with the principles summarized here.\

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