Hennepin County, MN Green Purchasing Program

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Hennepin County, MN, US

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Type: Program

Status: Established in 2001

Source File: Click here


Hennepin County’s Green Purchasing Program is a collaborative effort between county departments to increase the use of recycled and other environmentally preferable products, especially where these will reduce costs, while still meeting performance standards. Hennepin County’s program emphasizes a multi-faceted approach, including resolutions, workshops, project teams, designated standards and technical assistance.

Board Resolution
In April 2001, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners passed an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing and Waste Reduction Resolution (01-4-263). The resolution requires the County Administrator to develop minimum recycled content standards for the purchase of designated products and designate products to be evaluated for environmentally preferable alternatives. It also requires county departments, with assistance from Environmental Services, assign personnel to evaluate product opportunities and procurement procedures to procure designated products whenever practicable and to facilitate collection of data on procurement results.

Environmental Services and Purchasing and Targeted Contract Services are committed to hosting a Green Purchasing Workshop each September. The goal of the workshop is to celebrate our successes from the previous year, learn about new opportunities in green purchasing and identify key products/services for the county to focus efforts on in the upcoming year. Approximately 50 employees attend each year, including staff from Public Works, Central Services, Information Technology, Property Services, Libraries, Adult Corrections, and the Home School. In addition, staff from Hennepin County cities and surround counties are encouraged to attend. This workshop is fundamental in building the collaborative nature of our Green Purchasing Program. County staff that are responsible for the day-to-day purchasing decisions are asked to identify the most beneficial opportunities and commit to investigating them each year. The workshop also provides an opportunity to network with vendors and staff from other departments or agencies working on similar projects.

Project Teams
Once a product or service has been identified as a priority at a workshop, a project team is formed. Made up of staff from the department responsible for purchasing the product, Environmental Services and Purchasing and Targeted Contract Services, teams meet to research opportunities and develop a work plan to evaluate environmentally preferable alternatives. Hennepin County is currently working on over 20 green purchasing opportunities, including re-refined oil, reusable spray cans, and recycled material in road aggregate.

Designated Products
In May 2002, pursuant to the Green Purchasing resolution and based on staff research and project team recommendations, the County Administrator designate recycled content standards for printing papers, envelopes, bathroom tissue and paper towels. The County Administrator also designated the evaluation of cleaners/janitorial services, paint/painting services, parts washing equipment, fleet vehicles and copiers for environmentally preferable alternatives.

Technical Assistance and Communications
In addition to planning the workshops, reporting on project progress and making recommendations on designated products, Environmental Services staff is committed to researching green purchasing initiatives by other agencies, both locally and nationally. Via e-mail updates and one-on-one communication, staff shares information on new opportunities with the appropriate department staff in Hennepin County. Environmental Services staff also facilitates the collection of data to report our green purchasing progress.