Environmentally Preferable Purchasing: Santa Monica, Calif.
This case study describes the City of Santa Monica's efforts to identify and to purchase products and services that minimize the negative impacts on the environment and human health. It provides an overview of Santa Monica's environmental purchasing efforts and describes the city's program, the lessons it learned, and the key reasons for its success. Particular focus is given to fleet management; cleaning products, and recycled products.
Primary lessons include the importance of:
- Working with existing purchasing procedures
- Simplifying the purchasing process for alternative products
- Focusing on one product category at a time and using pilot programs
- Addressing the entire purchasing process as a system
- Creating partnerships between environmental and procurement staff
- Recognizing and utilizing the specific expertise of end-users
- Investigating third-party certification and other ways to verify vendor information
Santa Monica's city municipal code contains a clause that opens the door for environmental purchasing. Instead of requiring purchasers to choose the lowest bid, Santa Monica's city charter requires that they choose the "lowest and most responsible bid." The case study identifies specific criteria to meet the requirement.
The case includes sections on a Toxic Use Reduction program which reduced custodial spending by 5%, and an integrated pest management approach that costs 30% less than traditional pesticides.
This city of 90,000 residents has emerged as a leader in the area of environmentally preferable purchasing, and this case provides a good list of lessons learned that other cities could use to avoid setbacks in their own efforts.