Setting Health Care EPP Pr ior ities

Reference the Partner for Change Award checklist for all your EPP needs.

By Beth Eckl, Director, Practice Greenhealth’s Environmental Purchasing Program on May 10, 2016

hospital room

ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERABLE purchasing (EPP) is not only about the end products that arrive in your facility. Being a sustainable buyer means considering the product impacts in the entire supply chain (such as labor, utilities and training) to adhere to sustainability best practices and recommendations. The Practice Greenhealth Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program helps health care facilities evaluate the success of their EPP practices and incorporate best-practice solutions into their supply chains.

The Practice Greenhealth Partner for Change Award honors health care facilities that have made continued advancements in establishing environmental programs. Award winners showcase an ongoing commitment to energy and water conservation, waste reduction and chemical management, and present their commitments through a variety of programs across the supply chain.

Qualifications for the 2016 Partner for Change Award reflect the depth and breadth of opportunities for setting priorities in EPP around engaged leadership, healthier food, waste reduction, leaner energy, less water and safer chemicals. These include the Healthier Hospital Challenge areas that can kick-start your EPP journey and additional targets through Practice Greenhealth programs to accelerate your successes in meeting sustainability goals.

Based upon on the 2016 Partner for Change Award qualifications, the following list represents some of the EPP elements in the award application. Practice Greenhealth has published a checklist of all of the environmental purchasing opportunities that support an organization’s sustainability initiatives (


  • Engage corporate and system-level leadership on supply chain EPP.
    • Ask C-suite representatives or facility senior leadership to sign the Practice Greenhealth EPP Pledge to demonstrate commitment.
  • Communicate with your GPO and other vendors about what environmentally preferable products may be available. Let them know you are reviewing contracts that are up for renewal to identify EPP opportunities.
  • Make sure that all team members responsible for purchasing are aware of the priorities for purchasing environmentally preferable products.



  • Establish a recycling program that includes services for clinical and medical plastics and precious metals in clinical devices. Request regular tonnage reports as part of the service contract.
  • Ask suppliers about product take-back programs that focus on reuse and recycling. Seek out opportunities for donation programs that meet the needs of underserved areas.
  • Request service provider reports on annual regulated medical waste and sharps disposal tonnage and cost.
  • Establish a contract for reusable sharps containers, single-use device reprocessing programs, and recycling collection services for potentially hazardous items such as batteries and fluorescent bulbs.
  • Purchase reusable surgical items such as gowns, drapes, towels, rigid sterilization containers, endotracheal tubes, grounding pads, and surgical basins and pitchers.

Energy and Water

  • Establish a contract to conduct a baseline energy and water usage audit to gauge your facility’s specific needs for energy and water management.
  • Purchase a fluid waste management system that empties directly into the sanitary sewer as a means to reduce exposures and waste.
  • Purchase or generate renewable energy based on the U.S. Green Building Council’s definition of valid renewable energy systems. These include photovoltaic systems; solar thermal systems; biofuel-based electrical systems (untreated wood waste mill residues, agricultural crops or waste); and systems that convert animal and other organic waste into gas.
  • Purchase energy efficient equipment that is ENERGY STAR certified or EPEAT registered.
  • Purchase LED surgical lighting and occupancy sensors for use in operating rooms.
  • Purchase submeters for equipment to measure water use.

Chemical Management and Green Cleaning

  • Adopt a policy that addresses the use of chemicals of concern including mercury, DEHP, phthalates, carcinogens, BPA and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), among others.
  • Discontinue the purchase of products containing PVC and DEHP, prioritizing products that have direct patient contact—and especially for products used in Neonatal Intensive Care Units.
    • Target PVC/DEHP free in the following categories: Enteral nutrition products, including all tubing, breast pumps and accessories; general urological products; exam gloves; and vascular catheters including umbilical vessel catheters.
  • Develop or utilize a contract to purchase services that support an integrated pest management program to reduce or eliminate the use of chemical pesticides.
  • Establish a mercury-free purchasing policy.
  • Purchase Green Seal or UL (formerly ECOLOGO) certified cleaners for cleaning needs on glass, carpet, upholstery, restrooms and floors.
    • Ensure vacuums are certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval/Green Label program.
    • Purchase automatic floor-scrubbing machines that use only water for cleaning, and use microfiber mops.
  • Purchase hand soaps that don’t contain antimicrobials for nonclinical areas, and ensure that antimicrobial hand soap in clinical areas doesn’t contain triclosan or triclocarban.
  • Consider investing in ultraviolet germicidal irradiation technology or UV disinfection equipment to remove airborne bacteria and viruses.
  • Participate in the Healthier Interiors Goal of the Healthier Hospitals program by purchasing furniture and furnishings free of the target chemicals of concern.

Healthy Food is Environmentally Preferable

  • Prioritize local and sustainable food sources (farmers markets, farms and co-ops), and encourage food suppliers (including distributors and GPOs) to improve the traceability of local and sustainable foods in ordering, invoicing and reporting systems.
  • Participate in the Healthier Hospitals Healthier Food Challenge, which focuses on both locally sourced and sustainable food options, as well as reduced meat options (
  • Purchase reusable food serviceware for cafeteria/retail and patient meals and/or reusable or certified compostable food serviceware (when composting) for cafeteria, retails and patient meals, and eliminate the use of polystyrene (Styrofoam) in food service.