In Thursday’s New York Times, I write about a new guide to green products vetted by the city of San Francisco, which in 2005 instituted strict purchasing standards:
In 2005, the City of San Francisco instituted strict purchasing standards requiring municipal departments to buy products that met certain environmental, health and toxicity guidelines.
Now the city has put online the database it has developed over the past five years to serve as a resource for other cities as well as for corporate purchasing agents and consumers. Called the SF Approved List, the Web site lists more than 1,000 products, like bathroom disinfectants and computer keyboard cleaners, that do not emit greenhouse gases.
“It is quite difficult for purchasing agents to find environmentally preferable products,” Karl Bruskotter, environmental programs analyst with the City of Santa Monica, Calif., wrote in an e-mail. “Any vendor can offer a product or service and call it green, and the purchasing agent may not know how to ask the right questions to uncover whether or not the product really is green.”
For example, he said, it can be challenging to find a safer chemical product to remove graffiti. He noted that Santa Monica maintained its own green purchasing program. “I have looked at the San Francisco list and sought a distributor down here in L.A. to give to our staff for removing graffiti,” Mr. Bruskotter said.
Chris Geiger, the green purchasing manager for the San Francisco Department of the Environment, said the city researched the environmental and health hazards for each product category.
Mr. Geiger said his team developed its list based on existing “eco-labels,” its own testing and by tapping a database of chemical hazards maintained by GoodGuide, an online consumer service. The city evaluates ingredients, energy efficiency and volume of recycled content. Rather than just compare various products, the environment department also researches environmentally preferred alternatives to using a particular product.
“The biggest difference between SF Approved and commercial guides is that this is coming from a government agency that has looked at products for its own use with an objective eye,” Mr. Geiger said.
You can read the rest of the story here.