Press Release / July 23, 2013

CONTACT: Burton Glass, 617.945.4895,


Government purchasers, Fortune 500 companies, higher education behind the push

WASHINGTON DC – A group of leaders from government, industry, academia, standards organizations and NGOs are joining forces to solve the biggest obstacle keeping organizations from directing their trillions in spending towards sustainable products: a lack of standardization in how sustainable purchasing is defined, guided, measured and rewarded.

On July 23, these leaders formally announced the creation of the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council with a live webcast from Washington, DC, that drew the attention of representatives from more than 1,000 organizations in more than 45 countries. The Council will help its members optimize their purchasing for maximum benefit to themselves, society and the planet.

SPLC’s founding members include, among others listed below, Office Depot, FedEx, Dell, Waste Management, Ecolab, the cities of San Francisco and Washington DC, the states of California and Minnesota, Arizona State and Michigan State universities, UL Environment, and FairTradeUSA. Founding partners include, among others, American National Standards Institute, Institute for Supply Management, National Association of State Procurement Officers, Practice GreenHealth and the Product Stewardship Institute.

The Council announced during the webcast that it will begin releasing tools for use by procurement and sustainability professionals within a few months, starting with a consensus set of Principles for Leadership in Sustainable Purchasing that organizations can use to guide their own purchasing. Within six months the Council will release an analytics buyer guide and training curricula to help organizations measure the social and environmental impacts associated with their spending. More tools will follow, including action-planning guidance for redirecting spending to lower-impact solutions and solicitation-ready templates for a number of high priority product and service categories.

Organizations that begin using these tools as they become available will be well prepared for the sustainable purchasing rating system the Council intends to release within two years, according to Jason Pearson, the Council’s Executive Director. Modeled on the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) successful LEED program, this leadership recognition program will reward organizations for excellence in measuring and mitigating the impacts associated with their purchasing choices.

Kevin Lyons, professor of Supply Chain Management at Rutgers University and former Chief Procurement Officer there, gave context to the day’s event:  “Many long-timers in the sustainable purchasing movement have dreamed of having a multi-stakeholder, multi-sector space for collaborating to refine our efforts – a ‘USGBC for procurement.’ I’m thrilled to be able to say that today that dream is becoming a reality.”

“Sustainable purchasing touches on nearly every environmental and public health issue confronted by EPA. We recognize these aren’t issues that can be solved by scientists and policymakers alone,” said Alison Kinn Bennett, EPA’s Senior Advisor for Product Sustainability. “EPA is thrilled to see such a diverse group of stakeholders coming together to bring greater clarity, consistency, and recognition to sustainable purchasing.”

“The average procurement professional facilitates hundreds of dollars in spending for every one dollar spent by the average consumer,” said SPLC’s Jason Pearson during the event. “By removing confusion and providing credible standards, guidance and recognition, we will empower purchasers to lead our economy’s transition to sustainability.

“Some categories of purchasing cause way more supply chain environmental impacts than others,” Pearson added. “It is our job, as a council, to help purchasers to understand the relative importance of different actions in order to help them to prioritize effectively—to be leaders—in meeting their sustainability objectives.”

Joining Kevin Lyons, Bennett and Pearson as presenters today were: David Asiello, strategist, Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, U.S. Department of Defense; Yalmaz Siddiqui, senior director, Environmental Strategy, Office Depot; Christopher O’Brien, director of sustainability, American University; and Anastasia O’Rourke, principal, DEKRA Sustainability. Joel Makower, executive editor, GreenBiz Group, moderated the program.

SPLC has emerged from and builds on four years of work by the Green Products Roundtable, a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder forum convened by the Keystone Center in 2008.

For more information, visit:

Founding Members
Purchasers: American University; Arizona State University; City of Portland, OR; City of San Francisco, CA; City of Washington, DC; King County, WA; Emory University; Michigan State University; State of California, DGS; State of Minnesota, PCA & MMD; US Department of Agriculture
Suppliers: Apex Clean Energy; The CarbonNeutral Company; Dell; Domtar; Ecolab; FedEx; Office Depot; SciQuest; Waste Management
Market Advisors: CIPS Sustainability Index; DEKRA; FairTrade USA; GreenCircle Certified; SCS Global Services; Social Hotspots Database Project; UL Environment

Strategic Partners
American National Standards Institute (ANSI); Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE); Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA); ICLEI, Institute for Supply Management (ISM); ISEAL Alliance, National Association of State Procurement Officers (NASPO); Practice GreenHealth (PGH); Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), Sustainable Food Lab.

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