City to Align Purchases With Sustainability Goals

First published in the Oct. 23 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

The city plans to beef up its sustainability endeavors by crafting a new policy of environmentally preferable purchasing that will ostensibly set a course for more earth-friendly procurements that also are fiscally prudent.
Building upon policies adopted in the 1990s, the city will shape the enhanced EPP policy and take input from the Sustainability Commission before bringing the document back to the City Council. All five council members agreed to move forward with the update this week.
“I think it’s long overdue, but there’s no wrong time to do the right thing,” Councilman Ardy Kassakhian said.
Implementing the new policy would be done through source reduction, meaning that city departments would have to reduce or cease procuring single-use products if there are better alternatives — for example, refillable liquid or cleaning products. The effort would also involve identifying where refurbished or truly recycled items such as toner cartridges and automotive parts could remove the need for brand-new items.
The new policy is likely to also require the use of reused items like signage and products with minimum recycled content such as papers, concrete and asphalt. Additionally, energy-efficient and water-saving products would continue to be required where possible.
David Jones, chief sustainability officer for Glendale, noted that in addition to achieving ecological goals, such a policy is likely to check the “fiscal responsibility” box because many soon-to-be-sought items are resource efficient, so they won’t need to be purchased as often.
“Expanding the scope and scale of the EPP program is an opportunity for the city to align internal practices with current sustainability goals and future climate action and adaptation plans and initiatives,” Jones told the council on Tuesday.
The staff report for the agenda item was careful to note that the ultimate policy should not be interpreted as a directive to order or use products that fall short of their intended purpose. In other words, if a product deemed more environmentally friendly cannot perform its intended or required use, the department is expected to stick with the most effective option. Similarly, sustainable options that are not available at “reasonable” prices or times are to also be avoided.
Councilman Dan Brotman, known for his environmental and sustainability activism, lauded Jones’ efforts and prior experience in developing and implementing such policies.
“It’s great that we have someone with this kind of experience on the team,” Brotman said.