DoD Issues 'Green' Procurement Policy to Benefit Environment
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2004 The Defense Department issued a new procurement policy this week urging employees and military to "buy green."
The new "green procurement" policy requires the department's civilian and military personnel to purchase products and services that benefit the environment, said Alex Beehler, DoD's chief of environmental safety and occupational health, in an Oct. 21 interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.
He noted that products such as recycled office supplies and lubricants and biomass-produced goods such as energy are among the types of purchases the policy requires.
Biomass uses agricultural and organic wastes to create renewable energy such as electricity and industrial process heat and steam, Beehler explained. According to Energy Department statistics, biomass was the leading source of renewable energy in the United States last year.
Beehler said the green procurement policy is the latest endeavor by DoD to forge its reputation as being a good environmental steward. That reputation, he added, stretches back some 30 years and includes myriad DoD recycling programs. In fact, the first recycling policy developed by DoD was under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's first term in 1976. Like that policy then, Beehler said, this new policy is "intrinsically the right thing to do."
"It's the right thing to do toward our environment, toward the mission, toward making the lives of our civilian and military employees and families much better by having a safer, better Earth."
Beehler said there is no requirement under the policy to purchase green products that "cost more, are scarce, or have other limitations."
However, he added that consideration should be given to those items that over the long term would produce more cost savings or improved efficiency. He said training will be provided to help those directly involved in the purchasing process to identify green procurement items.
The training also will help raise the awareness of procurers to buy green, he added, "so that it becomes incorporated into their daily operations to look at pursuing green procurement opportunities wherever they realistically exist."
The department plans to develop a catalog that will show DoD procurement officers and employees where they can find and purchase green products, he said.
Beehler said for now, DoD is focusing on implementing of the new policy, not enforcing it. Plans call for an environmental management system that will monitor compliance through "environmental audits and environmental contracting to make sure that the policy is successfully implemented," he added.
Beehler, who has worked in the environmental field for 20 years, said the new policy underlines DoD's commitment to the environment. He pointed out that environmental programs in the past were committed to "making sure things didn't get worse and to reducing the waste and the pollution that had already occurred."
"In the beginning, that made perfectly good sense," he said. "But as time has evolved and as our programs have matured, we really need to do a lot more."
He said the time has come "to go beyond environmental compliance," and that the focus now should be on "improving the environment rather than just protecting it."
The new policy, he said, "will empower each individual to have a vital stake in improving the environment."