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Summary of Comments at the Public Meeting on Proposed Guidance on Acquisition of Environmentally Preferable Products and Services Final Report

United States Environmental Protection Agency
Pollution Prevention and Toxic Substances (7409)
EPA 742-R-96-005
February 1996
Summary of Comments at the Public Meeting on Proposed Guidance on Acquisition of Environmentally Preferable Products and Services Final Report


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Pages
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND 1
  A. Executive Order 12873, Section 503 2
  B. The public meeting 2
  C. EPA's proposed guidance on acquisition of environmentally preferable products and services 3
II. SUMMARY OF COMMENTS BY TOPIC 4
  A. Comments on the effectiveness of the guidance framework 4
  B. Comments on the seven guiding principles 6
  C. Comments on operationalizing the principles through pilot acquisitions and other tools 8
  D. Comments on the life-cycle assessment (LCA) approach 10
  E. Comments on combining Principles #2 and #3 12
  F. Comments on the proposed menu of environmental performance attributes (Appendix B1) 12
  G. Comments on establishing core environmental values and the ecological impact matrix 13
  H. Comments on third-party environmental certification programs 14
  I. Miscellaneous comments 17
III. CONCLUSIONS 21
IV. QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSIONS 22
  A. Questions for the federal agency panel and panel 1 22
  B. Questions for panels 2 and 3 23
  C. Questions for panels 4 and 5 24
APPENDICES
  A. List of commenters 25
  B. Commenters by interest category 27
  C. Index of comments 28

SECTION ONE
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

On September 29, 1995, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published Proposed Guidance on Acquisition of Environmentally Preferable Products and Services (60 FR 189, 50721-50735). EP developed the guidance to implement section 503 of Executive Order 12873, Federal Acquisition, Recycling, and Waste Prevention. The Executive Order directs federal agencies to evaluate the environmental attributes of the products and services they purchase. In a notice accompanying the guidance, EPA announced a public meeting to receive comments from interested parties on the proposed guidance. This report summarizes oral comments presented at the public meeting, held on October 26, 1995. EP requested comment on several specific topics, including:

Section Two of this report presents comment summaries grouped according to the above topic areas. While EPA received comment on most of the above topics, some of EPA's requests for comment went unanswered. Section Three presents the concluding remarks made by William Sanders, Director of EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. Section Four summarizes the questions posed during three question-and-answer sessions at the meeting. Appendix A of this report presents a complete list of commenters. Appendix B is a list of commenters by interest category. An index of comments is provided in Appendix C.

In addition to presenting oral testimony, participants in the public meeting were asked to submit written comments. At the request of several organizations, the written comment period was extended. All written comments were due to EPA on December 28, 1995. A public record was established for these comments under docket number OPPTS-00149. The docket is located in the TSCA Nonconfidential Information Center, Room NE-B607, 401 M Street, SW., Washington, DC 20460, and is available for inspection by the public from noon to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays.

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A. EXECUTIVE ORDER 12873, SECTION 503

Section 503 of Executive Order 12873, Federal Acquisition, Recycling, and Waste Prevention, requires EPA to "issue guidance that recommends principles that Executive agencies should use in making determinations for the preference and purchase of environmentally preferable products." "Environmentally preferable" is defined in the Executive Order to mean "products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, or disposal of the product or service."

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B. THE PUBLIC MEETING

Thirteen interested parties (excluding federal agencies) presented oral testimony at the public meeting. EPA grouped the public commenters into five panels. Five sets of comments from four federal agencies were also presented in a separate federal agency panel. Each speaker was allotted eight minutes for comments. A question-and-answer session followed every two panels.

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C. EPA's PROPOSED GUIDANCE ON ACQUISITION OF ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERABLE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

EPA's document on environmentally preferable purchasing, Proposed Guidance on Acquisition of Environmentally Preferable Products and Services, summarizes EPA's approach to developing the guidance, presents seven guiding principles agencies should consider when purchasing environmentally preferable products, and describes implementation activities. Copies of this document are available by calling the Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse at 202 260-1023.

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SECTION TWO
SUMMARY OF COMMENTS BY TOPIC

A. COMMENTS ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE GUIDANCE FRAMEWORK

Most commenters agreed that the overall framework of the guidance is an effective first step in promoting the acquisition of environmentally preferable products and services. Several commenters expressed concern, however, that the guidance is not specific enough. One commenter, the American Forest & Paper Association, believes that the framework is ineffective. Specific comments are as follows:

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B. COMMENTS ON THE SEVEN GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The seven guiding principles are summarized as follows:

Commenters supported most principles, suggesting some alterations. General comments on the seven guiding principles are as follows:

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C. COMMENTS ON OPERATIONALIZING THE PRINCIPLES THROUGH PILOT ACQUISITIONS AND OTHER TOOLS

While most commenters supported the emphasis on pilot projects, several stated that pilot projects go beyond EPA's mandate, as established in Executive Order 12873. These commenters believe that the Executive Order does not require EPA to recommend implementation procedures for acquiring environmentally preferable products and services, and that doing so would be costly and time-consuming. Commenters had no suggestions for other tools EPA might propose to operationalize the principles. Specific comments are as follows:

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D. COMMENTS ON THE LIFE-CYCLE ASSESSMENT (LCA) APPROACH

Several commenters approved of the emphasis on LCA but cautioned that LCA is not fully developed, can be costly, and requires analyses that agencies might not be able to conduct; EPA should acknowledge these concerns. Other commenters objected to the inclusion of LCA in the guidance because this assessment is impossible to apply to every procurement decision. Specific comments are as follows:

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E. COMMENTS ON COMBINING PRINCIPLES #2 AND #3

Two commenters on this topic recommended that EPA combine Principles #2 and #3. Specific comments are as follows:

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F. COMMENTS ON THE PROPOSED MENU OF ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE ATTRIBUTES (APPENDIX B1)

Commenters disagreed about the proposed menu of environmental performance attributes. While some found the list helpful in identifying which attributes contribute to environmental preferability, others worried that the list could be used inappropriately. Several commenters suggested other attributes to add to the list. Specific comments are as follows:

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G. COMMENTS ON ESTABLISHING CORE ENVIRONMENTAL VALUES AND THE ECOLOGICAL IMPACT MATRIX

Commenters disagreed about the value of the ecological impact matrix. While one commenter believes that the matrix is sound, others stated that it has not been sufficiently developed and is difficult to use. Specific comments are as follows:

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H. COMMENTS ON THIRD-PARTY ENVIRONMENTAL CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS

Commenters disagreed about the use of third-party environmental certification programs. Although some commenters felt that such programs help determine which products and services are environmentally preferable, others objected to their use. Those that opposed third-party certification programs expressed concern about the use of ecoseals and stated that the government should not delegate governmental functions to private parties. Specific comments are as follows:

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I. MISCELLANEOUS COMMENTS

Additional comments presented at the meeting ranged from suggestions that agencies procure municipal solid waste (MSW) services in accordance with RCRA to recommendations that agencies acquire products developed by the Alternative Agriculture Research and Commercialization Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Specific comments are as follows:

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SECTION THREE
CONCLUSIONS

In closing the meeting, William Sanders, Director of EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, summarized the comments made at the meeting. He stated that there is general, although not unanimous, agreement that the guidance is a good first step and that LCA should be part of the framework. Commenters have expressed concern, however, about whether LCA can be used without overwhelming purchasers. Mr. Sanders stated that although commenters did not agree about the role of third-party certification programs, EPA will need to address this issue as the Agency moves towards implementation of the guidance. Mr. Sanders also stated that commenters approved of the need for pilot projects and agreed that EPA needs to move more quickly in implementing the guidance.

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SECTION FOUR
QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSIONS

A question and answer session followed every two panels. Attendees were invited to submit their written questions to the moderator, who read them aloud. Panelists to whom the questions were addressed were not obligated to answer the questions at this time. All questions were entered into the record and will be considered by EPA and the appropriate agencies as EPA reviews comments offered during the public meeting and submitted to the docket.

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A. QUESTIONS FOR THE FEDERAL AGENCY PANEL AND PANEL 1

Federal Agency Panel
Carole Parker, U.S. Department of Defense
John Stanberry, U.S. General Services Administration
Rick Klimkof, U.S. Department of Energy
Ron McHugh, U.S. Department of Energy
Bruce Crain, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Panel 1
Rick Otis, American Plastics Council
Maureen Healey, The Society for the Plastics Industry

From David Sussman, Ogden Projects, Inc.
To Carole Parker and Rick Klimkof

The first two speakers discussed procurement of products and had no mention of services. Is this an oversight or are services of no interest to these two agencies?

From Larry Errelich, George Washington University
To Rick Klimkof

Will the program you described be separate or part of this program? If it is to be integrated, how will that be done?

From Stephen Evanoff, Lockheed-Martin Corporation
To Carole Parker and Rick Klimkof

Please comment on the role of prime contractors in general and government operators in particular in implementing this program.

From Ken Farber, Hogan and Hartson for PIMA
To Fran McPoland

How will this program be coordinated with DOE's energy-efficient product program, particularly if there is a potential conflict of methodologies, assumptions, and criteria?

From David Isaacs, EIA
To Carole Parker

You mentioned the difficulties associated with evaluating the environmental attributes of complex defense systems. Can you elaborate on those difficulties?

From Stephen P. Ashkin, Rochester Midland Corporation
To various agency environmental executives

Would each agency identify what pilot projects are currently underway and what may be in the works?

From Eun-Sook Goidel, EPA
To Panel 1

Are there alternative frameworks apart from LCA that can help us capture the multidimensional aspects of environmental preferability?

From Eun-Sook Goidel, EPA
To Panel 1

A number of commenters have indicated that they are concerned about the use of third parties in determining environmentally preferable products because such a determination is inherently a governmental function. Could the federal agencies comment on this?

From John Shoaff, EPA
To Maureen Healey

In regard to the LCA and multiple attributes, can you elaborate on your comments that the government should ask how product design considerations are internalized into operations?

From Dave Core, Steel Shipping Container Institute
To Eun-Sook Goidel, EPA

Will these guidelines allow waivers for products that must first meet other regulatory requirements, e.g., DOT hazmat regulations?

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B. QUESTIONS FOR PANELS 2 AND 3

Panel 2
E. Donald Elliott, Grocery Manufacturers of America
Amy Schaffer, American Forest & Paper Association
Mike Conlon, Remanufacturing Industries Council

Panel 3
Ralph Engel, Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association
David Sussman, Ogden Projects, Inc.
Mike Conlon, Automotive Parts Rebuilders Association

No questions were posed to these two panels.

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C. QUESTIONS FOR PANELS 4 AND 5

Panel 4
Edgar Miller, National Recycling Coalition
Chet Chaffee, Scientific Certification Systems Company
Arthur Weissman, Green Seal

Panel 5
Stephen Ashkin, Rochester Midland Corporation
Lloyd Murphy, Sunshine Makers, Inc.

From Rick Otis, American Plastics Council
To Arthur Weissman

How do you address the concern that the ecoseal certification process is too slow to accommodate changes in product design, manufacturing processes, and ingredients? Will not the delay slow down product innovation?

From Rick Otis, American Plastics Council
To Arthur Weissman

You said "all things being equal" with respect to an attribute like a toxic ingredient. How do you ensure that all other things are equal? And when they are not, what value judgments do you use to weigh the differences?

From Birgit Leuschel, New Jersey Institute of Technology
To Chet Chaffee

How does the ISO 14000 series relate to the EPA guidelines? To what extent could an ISO 14001 certified company meet the proposed criteria?

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APPENDIX A LIST OF COMMENTERS

American Forest & Paper Association
Amy Schaffer
Senior Director
1111 19th Street, NW., Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036
202 463-2585
Fax: 202 463-2423

American Plastics Council
Rick Otis
Director
1275 Case Street, NW., Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20005
202 371-5319
Fax: 202 371-5679

Automotive Parts Rebuilders Association
Mike Conlon
General Counsel
1818 M Street, NW., Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
202 331-7050
Fax: 202 331-9306

Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association
Ralph Engel
President
1931 I Street, NW.
Washington, DC 20006
202 872-8110
Fax: 202 872-8114

Green Seal
Arthur Weissman
Vice President of Standards
1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW., Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20036
202 331-7337, Extension 32
Fax: 202 331-7533

Grocery Manufacturers of America
E. Donald Elliott
Counsel
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Suite 800
Washington, DC 20004
202 639-7170
Fax: 202 639-7372

National Recycling Coalition
Edgar Miller
Director of Policy
1727 King Street, Suite 105
Alexandria, VA 22314-2720
703 683-9025
Fax: 703 683-9026

Ogden Projects, Inc.
David Sussman
Senior Vice President
1212 New York Avenue, NW., Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
202 371-5144
Fax: 202 371-9236

Remanufacturing Industries Council
Mike Conlon
General Counsel
1818 M Street, NW., Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
202 331-7050
Fax: 202 331-9306

Rochester Midland Corporation
Stephen Ashkin
Vice President
333 Hollendec Street
Rochester, NY 14603-1515
716 336-2200
Fax: 716 336-2357

Scientific Certification Systems Company
Chet Chaffee
Vice President, Marketing
1 Kaiser Plaza, Suite 901
Oakland, CA 94612
510 832-1415
Fax: 510 832-0359

The Society of the Plastics Industry
Maureen Healey
Director, Federal Government Affairs
1275 K Street, NW., Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
202 371-5219
Fax: 202 842-1165

Sunshine Makers, Inc.
Lloyd Murphy
Director, Industrial Education
1059 Jennings Station Road
St. Louis, MO 63137
314 867-8725
Fax: 314 867-8791

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Bruce Crain
Director, Alternative Agriculture Research and Commercialization Center
0156 South Building 12th Street and Independence Avenue, SW.
Washington, DC 20250
202 690-1633
Fax: 202 690-1655

U.S. Department of Defense
Carole Parker
Director, Pollution Prevention Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Environmental Security
5109 Leesburg Pike, Suite 310
Falls Church, VA 22041

U.S. Department of Energy
Rick Klimkof
Program Manager, Federal Energy Management Program
1001 Independence Avenue, SW. (EE92)
Washington, DC 20585-0121
202 586-8287
Fax: 202 586-3000

U.S. Department of Energy
Ron McHugh
1001 Independence Avenue, SW. (EE92)
Washington, DC 20585-0121
202 586-8287
Fax: 202 586-3000

U.S. General Services Administration
John Stanberry
Environmental Executive 18th and F Streets, NW. Washington, DC 20405
202 208-7929

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APPENDIX B COMMENTERS BY INTEREST CATEGORY

Category: Commenter

Federal Agency:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Department of Energy (two commenters)
U.S. General Services Administration

Consumer and/or Commercial Products Manufacturer:
Sunshine Makers, Inc.

Industrial Products Manufacturer:
Rochester Midland Corporation

Environmental Advocacy Organization:
National Recycling Coalition

Trade Association:
American Plastics Council
American Forest & Paper Association
Automotive Parts Rebuilders Association
Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association
Grocery Manufacturers of America
Remanufacturing Industries Council
The Society of the Plastics Industry

Standards and Certification Organization:
Green Seal
Scientific Certification Systems Company

Miscellaneous:
Ogden Projects, Inc.

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APPENDIX C INDEX OF COMMENTS

Commenter: Pages Where Comments Appear

American Plastics Council: 4, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 19
American Forest & Paper Association: 5, 9, 11, 16
Automotive Parts Rebuilders Association: 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 19
Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association: 5, 7, 11, 12, 16
Green Seal: 5, 17
Grocery Manufacturers of America: 15
National Recycling Coalition: 5, 10, 13, 16
Ogden Projects, Inc.: 19
Remanufacturing Industries Council: 5, 11, 19
Rochester Midland Corporation: 6, 10, 13, 14
Scientific Certification Systems Company: 8, 12, 14, 17
The Society of the Plastics Industry: 4, 7, 11, 12, 15
Sunshine Makers, Inc.: 20
U.S. Department of Agriculture: 18
U.S. Department of Defense: 4, 6, 8, 10, 14
U.S. Department of Energy: 4, 9, 15, 18 U.S.
General Services Administration: 7, 9, 11, 14, 17


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