Updated Environmental Preferable Purchasing to Include Electronics, Furniture, and
Textiles in Fashion Capital of the World
New York, NY – On Thursday, during Climate Week the New York City Council passed legislation to overhaul an outdated Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program that will direct $20 billion in city spending to save the environment. The program originally authored by Mayor Bill de Blasio as a Council Member in 2005 was never followed by his administration, which still included references to outdated VHS and cassette tapes, mini-discs, and answering machines. The laws authored by Contracts Chair Ben Kallos adopt new environmental goals, expands coverage to more contracts, and adds new major categories such as furniture and textiles.
“It is climate week, we've already declared a climate emergency, now it's time to put our money where our mouth is and spend $20 billion to save our planet,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, author of New York City’s declaration of a climate emergency. “New York City is the fashion capital of the world and purchasing environmentally preferable textiles for hundreds of thousands of first responders will help change the industry."
In 2005, New York City adopted EPP to minimize the environmental impact of municipal government in its role as a consumer. The original law, which set forth strong environmental standards at the time, was not updated through biannual issuance of regulations as originally intended, leaving the city decades behind other states and even the Federal Government.
Int. 2271-A will:
- Adopt Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) – electronics would be assessed based on their effect on the environment receiving rankings of Gold, Silver, or Bronze, under the EPEAT program managed by the Green Electronics Council. This is the highest standard adopted by the Federal government in 2007, Amazon in 2010, and available in 43 countries. The legislation would also require power management software by activated on all city systems where it available.
- More Ambitious Standards – the city would promulgate rules adding new environmental purchasing standards and overhaul others:
- Eliminating Reliance on Virgin Materials
- Applying New York City Climate Protection Act to Greenhouse Gas Emissions from manufacturing of purchased items,
- Adding the Improvement of Outdoor Air Quality
- Requiring that Purchases Reduce the Negative Effects and Generate Positive Effects for Environment
- Additional standards that would remain: conserve energy and water, reduction of hazardous substances, increase use of recycled and reused materials, improve indoor air quality, and promote end-of-line management.
- Prohibit the Purchase of Halogen Lamps (expansion from incandescent)
- Adding Furniture to Environmental Purchasing
Any contract that did not follow EPP would was required to consider the life-cycle cost-effectiveness, which would now be required to be submitted to the Director of Environmental Purchasing prior to awarding the contract. Agencies would be required to share the total value of all contracts, the value of contracts that were not covered, and solicitations covered by EPP, Reporting would be required annually, with all waivers and reports made public by posting them online.
Int. 2272-A would establish a taskforce to research and consider other social costs associated with the production of textiles, including the nature of labor conditions along the supply chain. And reporting on:
- whether such textiles are recycled or organic in whole or in part;
- source and supply chain for textiles;
- value of contracts for textile;
- length of use of textiles; and
Textiles are some of the most reusable items in the waste stream and yet they continue to be sent to landfills. Fashion and garment companies across the world – including H&M, Stella McCartney, and Burberry – are committing to moving the industry towards circularity, whether that be by taking responsibility for their products, after customers have finished using them, or by only using materials that can be fully broken down and re-manufactured into new items. As a key player in the international garment industry, New York City is uniquely positioned to lead this important environmental change.