Pbt-Free Purchasing In The Great Lakes States
|Description:||Summary: The purpose of INFORM’s project, PBT-free Purchasing in the Great Lakes States, is to help government agencies and public institutions in the Great Lakes region minimize the purchase of products that contain (or generate) mercury, lead, dioxin or other persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) chemicals.
Research conducted by INFORM for its "Toxic Watch 1995" report demonstrated that in many cases, toxic chemicals contained in consumer products have played a much more significant role in environmental contamination and human health damage than those found in the waste streams of manufacturing facilities. Inform released a report on the industrial use of bioaccumulative toxins which documents that more than 90% of these chemicals are leaving factories in products, not in waste. PBTs, a more narrow group of bioaccumulative toxins, are found in a wide range of consumer and industrial products including paints (used on boats, bridges, roads and automobiles), pesticides, chlorinated solvents, inks, dyes, solder, etc. Toxic chemicals in consumer products can present risks both when products are used and after they are discarded into landfills and incinerators.
While many states, localities and federal agencies have altered their purchasing practices to favor products that are recycled or energy efficient, far fewer have looked extensively for ways to reduce the toxicity of the goods and services they procure. Government procurement has the potential to be a major catalyst for innovative technologies because the public sector has substantial purchasing power.
One of the primary goals of INFORM’s PBT-free Purchasing Project was to catalyze businesses to manufacture and distribute safer alternatives to PBT-containing products. Perhaps the greatest impact has been the stimulation of PBT-free product redesign in the auto industry. At INFORM’s suggestion, Minnesota’s 2002 vehicle bid put vendors on notice that vehicles purchased, used, and sold by the state will be completely mercury-free within three years. In response to this bid (and in concert with efforts by other environmentalists), General Motors (GM) announced that all mercury convenience lighting switches would be discontinued by January 15, 2002, nearly a year ahead of its previous schedule.
It has been estimated that this decision resulted in the elimination of mercury switches in 97,0001 vehicles, preventing the use of about 200 pounds of mercury. Moreover, Erie County, New York’s elimination of para-dichlorobenzene urinal blocks prevented about 200 pounds of para-blocks from going into the sewer system.
As a result of this grant, more than a dozen state and local governments in the Great Lakes region are now evaluating a broad range of products for PBTs and specifying safer alternatives. This has not only resulted in environmental benefits at the facilities that are now using less-toxic products, but it has also put industry on notice that this will be a driver for change. With EP’s support, it has been demonstrated that government purchasing can effectively spur pollution prevention and corporate innovation.
INFORM has produced numerous fact sheets that provide answers to frequently asked questions, lists of product vendors, price and performance comparisons, model specification language, and procurement success stories by other governments:
• Mercury-free vehicles (http://www.informinc.org/p3_09.php)
• Mercury-free medical equipment (http://www.informinc.org/p3_10.php)
• Safer alternatives to para-dichlorobenzene restroom deodorizers (www.informinc.org/fserie.pdf)
• Mercury-free products and alternatives (www.informinc.org/fsmercalts.pdf)
• Commonly (and some uncommonly) found PBT-containing products used by specific types of agencies and/or institutions.
• Environmentally preferable janitorial cleaning chemicals http://www.ecoiq.com/onlineresources/anthologies/prevention/index.html.
Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are funding this project.
Organizations Receiving Funding
Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are receiving funding for this project.
Below is a list of associated organizations that are NOT giving or receiving funding for this project.
Alliance for Sustainability - Partner
University of Minnesota, Hillel Center
1521 University Ave. SE
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414
Great Lakes United - Partner
Buffalo State College, Cassetty Hall
1300 Elmwood Ave.
Buffalo, New York 14222
p: (716) 886-0142
f: (716) 886-0303
Health Care Without Harm Coalition - Partner
1755 S Street, NW
Suite 6 B
Washington, District of Columbia 20009
f: 202-234-9121 firstname.lastname@example.org
National Wildlife Federation - Partner
Great Lakes Natural Resource Center
506 E. Liberty, 2nd Floor
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-2210