Responding to complex, technical product specifications
- Ask questions! Use the Q&A process outlined in the Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Bid (RFB)
- Some sustainability improvements lead to cost savings, but that isn't always the case. Don’t be discouraged if you think complying with the requirements may increase costs. The State anticipates cost implications as a result of its required specifications. Reflect those costs in bid prices.
- Use the manufacturer to get the information you need. They may have resources to help you develop your bid.
- Review the product specifications on current contracts. This can provide information on desired future requirements. See state contracts page.
- Contact technical experts at the MPCA to address questions about your products. Not sure how to find one? Inquire here.
- Pay attention to sustainability requests from other customers. Identifying trends will help you prepare for changes.
- Know that these challenges are not unique to small suppliers. Addressing emerging concerns is a challenge for all.
Responding to requests for ecolabels, standards or certifications
Obtaining and maintaining certification is a powerful tool to avoid "greenwashing". Certifications can assure our sustainability efforts are measurable and legitimate. Ecolabels and certifications help decision makers choose products that are safer.
The terms and conditions in state solicitations will state if certification is mandatory. Carefully read the criteria for the specified standard. Documentation of your products or services will be imperative.
For manufacturers, consider the costs:
- Fees vary to become certified and are not always published online. Certifying bodies can provide this upon request.
- There are usually application fees, certification fees, and re-certification fees. Some charge licensing fees.
- Certifiers often have a sliding scale for smaller producers.
- Costs may also include operational and administrative changes to meet the criteria.
- Work with a manufacturer that offers one or more third-party certified products.
- Compare costs of certified products from several manufacturers.
- Review existing requirements and learn which requirements are most common in your sector. It's likely that other customers will be asking for these as well.
- Keep costs down by:
- Buying in bulk
- Streamlining purchases
- Elimination of unnecessary purchases
- Purchasing concentrated items (e.g. chemicals)
- Centralizing purchasing
Responding to reporting requirements after the contract has been awarded
The State analyzes vendor reports for sustainability reporting. These reports can help with future decision making. To meet the reporting requirements:
- Work with manufacturers to provide the information needed for the report. Establish required criteria and set deadlines.
- Determine how this information will be provided to you.
- Ask questions if you are unclear on the reporting requirements.
- If reporting frequency or format is a barrier, request a different schedule or format.
- Set up a reporting system to streamline report creation. This will allow you to provide other customers with similar reports upon request.