New York, NY – Today the City Council's Contracts Committee held a hearing chaired by Council Member Ben Kallos focusing on new legislation which would update the City's Environmental Preferantial Purchasing Program. The proposed changes affect some $20 billion in spending that goes throuhgh the Environmental Preferential Purchasing program which has not been overhauled in 16 years. With ambitious goals that are responsive to our climate emergency the legislation authored by Kallos (D-Manhattan) would adopt the toughest standards for electronics, add furniture, overhaul environmental goals, and launch a taskforce on textiles.
“We have a climate emergency and New York City government should make sure that every penny of our $94 billion budget that is going to the private sector puts the environment first,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, author of New York City’s declaration of a climate emergency.
In 2005, New York City adopted Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) to minimize 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.
The first bill would:
- 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:
- Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions (replacing “Decreasing”)
- Eliminate Reliance on Virgin Materials (New)
- Eliminate Reliance on Hazardous Substances (replacing “Reduce”)
- Improve Outdoor Air Quality (New)
- Reduce the Negative Effects and Generate Positive Effects for Environment (New)
- Additional standards that would remain: conserve energy and water, 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. Reporting would be required annually, with all waivers and reports made public by posting them online.
The second bill 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. along 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 Burburry – 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.