Portland and Multnomah County break ground with sustainable purchasing initiative
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
The Healthy Purchasing Initiative is aimed at forcing more transparency about what's contained in products purchased by local government agencies.
Portland City Council unanimously passed an initiative Wednesday that will put a program in place for city officials to require chemical ingredients to be disclosed before goods are purchased.
The Healthy Purchasing Initiative was developed in partnership with Multnomah County as a follow-up to the Toxics Reduction Strategy that the city and county collaborated on and passed in 2006. Multnomah County Commissioners are expected to pass the initiative Thursday.
The move dovetails with Gov. John Kitzhaber's executive order, signed in May, that urged local governments to amend their purchasing policies to support Oregon's green chemistry industry.
The initiative also reflects a growing momentum in the green building industry to focus on the toxic content of building materials and eliminate those with dangerous chemicals. The Living Building Challenge's Red List, which identifies 14 harmful substances to be avoided, is an example of this effort.
Commissioner Dan Saltzman brought the resolution to adopt the initiative before Portland City Council. Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen is the champion for the effort at the county level.
"Consumers are asking more questions about the products they buy and about their chemical makeup. With its considerable punch and power, the city is in a great position to ask these same questions from manufacturers through the Healthy Purchasing Initiative," Saltzman said in a statement.
The initiative will use city and county procurement processes to request chemical content and hazard disclosure from contractors and manufacturers, leading to more informed purchasing decisions.
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