Environmentally Preferred Products (EPPs) overview

EPPs are products and services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared to competing products or services that serve the same purpose.

The primary goal of the EPP Program is to use the Commonwealth's purchasing power to reduce the environmental and public health impact of state government and cultivate markets for EPPs. Every day we are face the reality that many of the products we buy can cause damage to the environment and/or public health through the extraction of raw materials and the manufacture of products, to their use and disposal. By purchasing EPPs, we look to reduce those impacts, some of which may be severe. The choices we make affect our local environment, our health and the global community. The power of the purse is an extremely effective tool for promoting products that do less harm and contribute to the overall well-being of our planet.

The EPP Program addresses the needs of five primary user groups:

  • Executive Departments of the Commonwealth who are required to use the state's purchasing contracts and need easy access to EPP procurement guidance.
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts Political Subdivisions, including schools, municipalities, county government authorities, public institutions of higher education, and constitutional offices that seek approved contractors who sell environmentally preferred products at competitive prices.
  • Consumers, businesses, and manufacturers seeking to enhance their general understanding of the availability and characteristics of EPPs.
  • EPP program managers, such as those who have established and/or are running other states' EPP programs, Federal EPP programs, or are leading community initiatives.
  • Vendors seeking to sell environmentally preferred products and services to the Commonwealth.

Executive Order 515

On October 27, 2009, Executive Order 515 was signed, establishing an Environmental Purchasing Policy for all Commonwealth Executive Departments, to help conserve natural resources, reduce waste, protect public health and the environment, and promote the use of clean technologies, recycled materials, and less toxic products. This policy requires all Executive Departments to reduce their impact on the environment and enhance public health by procuring Environmentally Preferable Products and services whenever such products and services are readily available, perform to satisfactory standards, and represent best value to the Commonwealth.

Additional Resources

What are EPPs?

Environmentally preferable products are products and services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared to competing products or services that serve the same purpose. They may include, but are not limited to items that:

  • Contain recycled materials
  • Minimize waste
  • Conserve energy and/or water
  • Consist of fewer toxic substances
  • Reduce the amount of toxic substances disposed or consumed
  • Protect open-space
  • Lessen the impact to public health

Why Buy EPPs?

By purchasing EPPs, we look to reduce the impacts that certain products may cause, some of which may be severe. 

Purchasing decisions affect our local environment and the health of our citizens and workers, as well as the global community. As part of the largest procurement group in the nation (representing more than 20% of the Gross National Product (GNP)) federal, state, and local governments use the clout of their buying practices to direct industry manufacturers toward making more responsible products that are reasonably priced and do less harm to the environment and the public health.

Below are some of the benefits of EPPs:

  • Made with a percentage of post-consumer recycled content instead of pure virgin products, reducing the need to extract raw materials, such as petroleum, trees, or metals and, in general, use less energy and water.
  • Manufactured using fewer toxic ingredients, minimizing the hazardous impacts of those products during the manufacturing process (e.g. water/air pollution) as well as reducing the damage caused through accidental spills and improper disposal. We also reduce the risk to workers handling the products and the risks posed to building occupants when the product is in use.
  • Energy efficient, helping to limit energy consumption, which, in turn, lowers emissions of sulfur dioxide (which causes acid rain) and carbon dioxide (a primary greenhouse gas).

Can Purchasing EPPs Save Me Money?

Absolutely, EPPs can save you money!

A number of EPPs available on the market today are less expensive than their conventional counterparts that serve the same purpose (e.g. remanufactured toner cartridges and office panels, retread tires, and energy efficient equipment/appliances). A wide range of other EPPs are equal to or comparable in cost (e.g. carpet, cleaning products, janitorial paper products, and remanufactured antifreeze and traffic cones). A third segment of EPPs may cost more at the time of purchase, but often have a short "payback period" after which time they represent a significant ongoing cost savings in the maintenance, operation and/or disposal of the product (e.g. compact fluorescent light bulbs, plastic lumber, integrated pest management).


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