NEW Sustainable Purchasing Policy!

In 2010, Multnomah County adopted a new Sustainable Purchasing Policy in order to use its purchasing power to reflect the values of our community. These values include an open and fair procurement process, best values for taxpayers, reducing negative impacts on the environment or on specific community groups or neighborhoods, and supporting the local economy.

Sustainable purchasing (also called environmentally preferable purchasing, or EPP) is an effort to spend public funds on goods and services that minimize negative environmental impacts, are fair and socially just, and make economic sense, now and in the long term. With annual procurement decisions of State and local governments estimated at over $250 billion, governments wield monetary and symbolic influence, and bear responsibility to ensure that purchasing practices support public values.


  • Copy paper: Multnomah County adopted a Paper Policy in 2003, which directs county departments to reduce paper consumption 15% by the end of 2008, and to purchase paper which is processed chlorine-free (PCF) and which has at least 50% post-consumer recycled content. 
  • Cleaning products: After a comprehensive review of cleaning products used in county facilities, a Green Cleaning Policy was adopted in 2005.  Goals were set to make purchases of general purpose cleaners, floor care products, and laundry products more sustainable, as well as to provide proper training on their use and limit access to disinfectants.  To date, 23% of the cleaning products used in Multnomah County operations are sustainable, certified by third-party Green Seal.
  • Paints: Multnomah County’s Facilities & Property Management Division worked with the Sustainability Program to develop a Paint Policy in 2003 which set the standard for purchase of Green Seal certified latex paints wherever latex paints are used. 
  • Lamps: Facilities and Sustainability worked together in 2007 to adopt a Low-Mercury Lamp Policy, which details the county’s commitment to usage of linear fluorescent lamps which have low amounts of mercury.  The county is working with partners City of Portland and the state of Oregon Department of Administrative Services to create a contract for lamps using this standard.
  • Furniture recycling services: Used office furniture was a persistent problem and contributed to the county’s waste stream until addressed through the Sustainable Procurement Strategy in 2005.  The county developed a contract for furniture refurbishment and recycling services.  That contract is available for other local governments to utilize.  As a result, 36 tons of used furniture was collected from county facilities in 2007 for refurbishment or recycling. 
  • Biofuels: Multnomah County’s diesel fleet began utilizing a B20 blend of biodiesel in 2002.  The county also made the switch over to ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) in advance of the national requirement for on-road equipment.
  • Laundry services: A Sustainable Procurement Strategy team recommended that the City of Portland and Multnomah County consider sustainability in their contracts for uniform laundering services.  Because of this, green specifications were included in recent procurements for these services at both agencies.

Since 2002, Multnomah County has worked consistently on making its purchases more sustainable when it adopted a joint Sustainable Procurement Strategy with the City of Portland.