The MPCA works with the State's Department of Administration to develop specifications designed to reduce the impacts of targeted product and service contracts. Many state contracts may be used by public entities in Minnesota. Certain non-profits are also eligible to purchase from state contracts.
Read more about Minnesota's Cooperative Purchasing Venture (CPV) online to learn about accessing state contracts.
In the age of rapid technological advancements, it is important to understand the relationship between technology and the supply chain. Information technology (IT) products – including computers, phones, and other devices – rely on highly intensive production processes, consume energy during product use, and require complicated end of life management. Negative social impacts within the IT supply chain have also been well documented. Reducing organizational demand for new electronics (e.g. by extending product replacement cycles) is the best first step to minimizing impacts. When purchasing electronics, opting for sustainable IT goods and services allows purchasers to reduce their impacts on the supply chain across the entire lifecycle of a product.
- EPEAT is a product registry system that helps purchasers select high-performance electronic products that meet sustainability criteria. Product categories covered by EPEAT include servers, computers and displays, imaging equipment, mobile phones, and TVs.
- TCO Certified maintains a comprehensive sustainability certification for IT products, helping purchases make responsible product choices that drive the industry in a sustainable direction. They also provide a TCO-certified sustainable product database for wireless phones and smartphones, as well as other tech products.
- The ENERGY STAR program created a calculator to analyze estimated savings by purchasing sustainable office equipment.
- The EPA’s Federal Electronics Challenge provides guidance and resources for choosing Responsible Recycling (R2) electronic waste recyclers to ensure high standard of environmental and worker health during end of life management.
- The Green Electronics Council offers purchaser guidance on procuring sustainable IT products and services, including cloud computing services.
- Electronics Watch is a resource for social sustainability and responsibility in public procurement of electronics.
- The MPCA released a report on Procured Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Climate Impacts and Procurement Recommendations developed through an EPA grant.
State contract specifications
- Computers, monitors, and multifunction devices:
- The Minnesota Buy.IT Standards Program, managed by MN.IT (the IT agency for Minnesota’s Executive Branch), requires EPEAT registration for all computers, monitors, and multifunction devices.
- Contract release C-1046 (Computers: Desktops, Laptops, Tablets, Monitors, Accessories, & Services) requires computers and displays be EPEAT Bronze registered or better.
- Contract release C-1005 (Multifunction Devices – combined copier, printer, scanners) requires devices be EPEAT Bronze registered or better.
- Audio-visual products: Vendors on contract release A-203 may offer products that are ENERGY STAR, EPEAT, or TCO Certified. State agencies should purchase these products when available.
- Coming soon – wireless devices and services.
Building and facility
Buildings and facility operations contribute significantly to the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Overall, buildings use 47.6% of the total electricity generated, contributing 44.6% of total U.S. CO2 emissions. The overarching environmental impacts from buildings include water use, heating, cooling, waste, as well as land use changes. Indoor building environments also impact human health. Selecting sustainable materials when designing or retrofitting a building provides a healthier environment, enhanced social well-being, and economic savings.
- The Minnesota B3 (Buildings, Benchmarks and Beyond) tools and programs are designed to help make building more energy efficient and sustainable. The B3 programs are required on State-funded projects in Minnesota, however they are easily applied to any project. It includes resources for better materials and whole building life cycle assessment.
- The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has many resources on green buildings. Through building certifications like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), facilities managers can strive to join the more than 79,000 other LEED certified projects across the globe.
- The ENERGY STAR Program provides resources on many low-cost initiatives aimed at reducing energy consumption in buildings.
- The Whole Building Design Guide lists many tools geared towards energy savings. They also have a list of case studies that highlight the environmental, social, and economic benefits of sustainable buildings.
- The Center for Environmental Health offers an in-depth guide, “Kicking Toxics Out of the Workplace”, geared toward improving the indoor building environment.
- BIFMA is a trade association for business and institutional furniture manufacturers who promote the value of regulatory safety and performance standards among its members which benefits workplace environments to improve employee well-being and a safe work environment.
- Healthier Hospitals, Healthier Interiors offers an extensive list of furniture and materials that are free of harmful chemicals and any flame-retardants in order to contribute to a healthy and safe workplace.
- Greenguard offers a certification that ensures low particle and chemical emissions in indoor material/flooring and furniture options.
State contract specifications
- Carpet (w-ps3-31): Contract Release C-432(5). Product requirements including recycled-content, green label certification, and recycling of old materials. Carpet and flooring must meet specific standards such as the GREEN GUARD for Children & Schools Standard before consideration for purchase.
- Ballasts (w-ps3-34): Contract Release B-308(5). Requirements for fluorescent and compact fluorescent (electronic only) and electronic and magnetic HID. In order to optimize energy usage, a rigorous requirement list must be met before ballasts will be purchased by the state.
- Lamps (w-ps3-29): Contract Release L-290(5). In order to conserve energy and reduce toxicity, all lamps must meet specific standards and submit the Environmental Worksheet and the Price Schedule before consideration for purchase.
- Water treatment chemicals (w-ps3-35): Contract Release W-197(5). Includes requirements to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and protect water quality.
- Winter maintenance/snow removal (w-ps3-36): Contract Releases S-687, S-944, and S-1004. These contracts include requirements for equipment maintenance and calibration, the use of approved deicing methods, and reporting on application rates/deicing material, application amounts, and machinery upkeep and maintenance. A preference was given to vendors holding a current Minnesota Road Salt Applicators Training Certificate.
- Office furniture: Contract Release F-379(5). This contract specifies that “tier 1” products must have been verified to contain no chemicals of concern. These products can be purchased by without restriction. To purchase products not specified as tier 1, the buyer must receive permission from the Acquisition Management Specialist for the office furniture contract, as specified on the contract release.
- Refurbished system furniture and related services: Contract Release F-464(5). Furniture offered on F-464(5) is refurbished and is considered sustainable, as it adheres to the highest tier of the waste hierarchy – reuse!
- Coming soon – painting
Maintaining clean, sanitary facilities ensures customer satisfaction and the protection of public health. Purchasers can better protect human health and the environment by choosing sustainable janitorial supplies. Innovation in the janitorial products industry means that green products perform just as well as their conventional counterparts. The State of Minnesota prioritizes the purchase of janitorial supplies that provide optimal performance while also protecting human health and the environment.
- The Minnesota Department of Health has provided a Cleaners, Sanitizers, and Disinfectant Products Guide to assist in the selection of cleaning products for state agencies.
- Green Seal and UL EcoLogo develop sustainability standards for cleaning chemicals.
- The US EPA’s Safer Choice program helps consumers, businesses, and purchasers find products that perform and are safer for human health and the environment.
- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Health authored this Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Restrooms (PDF) information sheet, which explains best practices for keeping public restrooms clean and safe.
- Recycled content bags are offered by several vendors to promote a less wasteful post-consumer lifecycle and a circular economy.
State contract specifications
- Cleaning Supplies (w-ps3-25): Contract Release C-252(5). All cleaning products, with the exception of disinfectants, must be certified by Green Seal or EcoLogo, or recognized by the EPA’s Safer Product Labeling Program. Disinfectants are required to meet three human health criteria. These requirements ensure that products are safe to use and environmentally conscious.
- Compostable Bags (w-ps3-26): Contract Release B-351(5). Composting is one method to address the vast amount of waste produced in the United States. Bags on this contract must be certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI).
- Dish and Laundry (w-ps3-33): Contract Release C-983(5). A list of mandatory and desirable characteristics of dish and laundry cleaning compounds can be found in the contract. The list helps to verify the safety and environmental integrity of products.
- Janitorial Paper Products (w-ps3-28): Contract Release P-661(5). Sustainable products on this contract must either be Green Seal or EcoLogo certified or contain 100% recycled content.
- Recycled content bags and post-consumer content bags are offered on Contract Release B-298(5).
Within an office, high volume purchases like paper and toner can have a significant environmental impact. Office supplies contribute to greenhouse gas emissions through the manufacturing, packaging, transportation, use, and disposal phases. When purchasing office supplies, it is important to consider each phase of the lifecycle to ensure the product is less impactful on the environment. Reducing demand by printing less is the best way to save money and minimize environmental impacts. When purchasing paper and toner, opt for the highest level recycled content paper possible and remanufactured or high yield toner cartridges.
- The U.S. EPA has compiled a list of trusted products and services that meet sustainability criteria.
- CalRecycle assembled an Index of Resources surrounding reducing business waste! This index includes everything from reducing office waste to various case studies surrounding this topic.
- The Environmental Paper Network’s Paper Calculator is a useful resource for determining the environmental impacts of paper consumption.
- The MPCA conducted a case study on the performance of remanufactured toner and found that purchasing remanufactured toner cartridges instead of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) cartridges can significantly reduce printing costs and provide environmental benefits by saving energy and natural resources. Remanufactured toner cartridges also perform on the same level as their OEM counterparts.
State contract specifications
- Innovative Office Solutions (paper and toner): The state contract offers great pricing on remanufactured and high yield toner cartridges and recycled content paper. Make sure to look for the green chasing arrows symbol to determine whether the products contain recycled content!
- Ditch waste by eliminating bottled water. You can find point of use bottleless water coolers on R-640(5). For trainings and events, offer pitchers of water and re-usable cups instead of bottled water.
- Coming soon – systems furniture and services.
Demand for disposable or single use products has increased over the last few decades. To reduce environmental impacts, choose reusable, recyclable, and compostable food service products. Reusable glassware, food ware, and utensils offer the best option for an environmentally-preferable choice while recycled content, recyclable and compostable food ware serve as secondary options that may still support a less wasteful food ware option.
- For information on food service ware, check out the Responsible Purchasing Network's guide; which outlines best purchasing practices through reports and webinars!
- The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) has a search engine that helps purchasers determine if the product is certified as compostable.
- Disposable and compostable food ware has recently come under scrutiny for the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Check out the Center for Environmental Health’s Report on avoiding hazards and safe purchasing of food ware.
State contract specifications
- First consider the reusable dishware available on Contract Release F-354(5). Reusable products are a better environmental and cost saving choice in applications where dishwashing capabilities already exist!
- Compostable Food Ware: Contact Release F- 535(5). Product specifications and certifications are listed in the contract. Products must be BPI-certified and must not contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS).
- Food Service – Capital Complex: Contract Release F-523. In an attempt to minimize food service waste, contract vendors must identify reuse and waste reduction strategies. The State contract requires the use of Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certified food service ware. Additional environmental specifications can be found in the contract (coming soon).
State contract specifications
- Drilling: Contract Release F- 535(5). Environmental Specifications for drilling are listed in the contract
- Apparel: The State of Minnesota has not yet addressed sustainability in apparel purchases, but the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has released a report on Reducing the Climate Impact of Apparel Procurement by Government with findings and recommendations.
- Decrease waste by reducing packaging. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Packaging Reduction Study provides information and recommendations on environmental impacts of single-use packaging and its reduction.
- Implement a green meeting policy to lower the environmental footprint of meetings and events. An impactful green meeting policy should require the use of reusable, recyclable, or compostable food service items, prohibit the use of single use bottled water, and specify the purchase of lower impact food and beverage items (e.g. organic, local, bulk foods) at a minimum. You can find additional suggestions on the MPCA Green Meetings page.