At last week’s City Council Meeting, the Providence City Council passed a resolution requesting the Office of Sustainability collaborate with the Purchasing Department, the Healthy Communities Office, the Providence Public School Department, and the school district’s food service and facilities management companies to create an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy (EPP Policy) for the City of Providence. The resolution was introduced by Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1) and co-sponsored by Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Council Majority Leader JoAnn Ryan (Ward 5), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Deputy Majority leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Majority Whip John J. Igliozzi, Esq. (Ward 7), Councilors Helen Anthony, Esq. (Ward 2), Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), Rachel Miller (Ward 13), David A. Salvatore (Ward 14) Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), Michael Correia (Ward 6), and James E. Taylor (Ward 8).
In November of last year, Councilman Goncalves drafted a resolution calling for the City of Providence to share an inventory of single-use plastics used at City-owned properties. Based on discussions with Providence’s Office of Sustainability, the Environmental Sustainability Task Force and Clean Water Action Rhode Island, the resolution was later broadened to include environmentally preferable practices in all City purchasing, not just single-use plastics.
“What we learned when researching our City’s purchasing practices is that there is room for an environmentally friendly approach in many areas, not just single-use plastics. This new resolution encourages an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy that holistically addresses environmental and health concerns such as reducing the use of products containing neurotoxic chemicals along with purchasing products that contribute to a local, regenerative, and circular economy in Providence,” stated Councilman John Goncalves.
An EPP Policy will guide City staff and contractors in making purchasing choices that minimize negative impacts on human health and the environment while supporting the goals outlined in the City’s Climate Justice Plan. Making the switch to EPP does not have to be a costly endeavor as more and more cities and nations are going “green.” Items that would replace single-use plastics and other supplies have sharply decreased in price to be equivalent or even less costly than their traditional alternatives, particularly when lifecycle costs are taken into account. Coupled with third-party certification programs to guide staff, this can be a win-win for the city’s fiscal health and our goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.
Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan expressed, “I was very happy to join Councilor Goncalves as a co-sponsor on this important initiative. When we are looking at how we are spending our precious tax dollars I believe that putting an eye on greener and more efficient purchasing will benefit our City’s fiscal health in the long term. This is another great step in making Providence a greener city.”
Additionally, Councilor Helen Anthony, one of the co-sponsors of the resolution stated, “I’m proud to support the adoption of the Environmental Preferable Purchasing Policy by the City of Providence. We need to lead by example. Green purchasing will minimize the negative environmental impacts of the products and services used by the City and generate a healthier environment for our residents.”
“With an EPP Policy, the City can leverage its purchasing power to lead by example in city-owned schools and facilities, create a healthy workplace, schools, and community spaces, and help build a sustainable, zero-waste economy right here in Providence,” said Leah Bamberger, Director of Sustainability. “The Office of Sustainability looks forward to working with colleagues and contractors across the City to explore purchasing options that prioritize the health of our people and planet.”
Some of the goals of an EPP policy as outlined in the resolution are to encourage City staff to purchase products and institute practices that reduce waste and materials that are landfilled, especially single-use plastics; conserve energy and water; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and minimize the use of products containing neurotoxic chemicals. An EPP policy would create incentives for healthy, low-impact purchasing in City-owned facilities and encourage other consumers to adopt similar policies.
“We are grateful to Councilman Goncalves not only for the content of this Resolution – which will help put the City on a path to achieving goals set forth in the Climate Justice Plan – but also for actively engaging with the community and incorporating feedback from the Environmental Sustainability Task Force’s meeting. The Task Force unanimously voted to support the Resolution in December and we want to express thanks to the Councilman for demonstrating collaborative governance,” said Sue AnderBois, Chair of the Environmental Sustainability Task Force.
“I am grateful to the many community partners who have worked to create this plan to institute an EPP Policy including the City of Providence Office of Sustainability and Purchasing Department, my Council colleagues, Mayor Elorza, the Environmental Sustainability Task Force, Clean Water Action Rhode Island, as well as national partner Healthy Babies Bright Futures. I look forward to seeing this initiative come to fruition in the City of Providence as we lead by example and work together to find new ways to ensure that the City of Providence is a green, clean and healthy place for all who reside here,” added Councilman Goncalves.
To read the full resolution, click here.