Provided that the pricing, quality and other criteria are the same, preference will be given to products/services that are proven to be environment-friendly.
The evaluation factors for the environment-friendly products/services would include the following considerations:
- Waste Prevention and Reduction
- Resource Reduction
- Life Cycle Value
- Pollution and Toxin Reduction
- Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Biodiversity Maintenance and Habitat Protection
When determining whether a product is environmentally preferable all phases of the product’s life cycle will be considered, including: raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, operation, maintenance, disposal, the potential for reuse and ability to be recycled. The following environmental attributes are considered desirable:
Biodegradable - The ability of a substance to decompose in the natural environment into harmless raw materials. To be truly biodegradable, a substance or material should break down into carbon dioxide (a nutrient for plants), water, and naturally occurring minerals that also do not cause harm to the ecosystem. In terms of environmental benefits, a product should take months or years, and not centuries, to biodegrade.
Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-free – Any of a group of compounds that contain carbon, chlorine, fluorine, and sometimes hydrogen and have been used as refrigerants, cleaning solvents, aerosol propellants and in the manufacture of plastic foams. The uses of CFCs are being phased out because they destroy the planet's stratospheric ozone protection layer.
Compostable - A product that can be placed into a composition of decaying biodegradable materials and eventually turn into a nutrient-rich material. It is synonymous with "biodegradable,” except it is limited to solid materials. (Liquid products are not considered compostable.)
Durable – A product that remains useful and usable for a long time without noticeable deterioration in performance
Energy-efficient – A product that is in the upper 25 percent of energy efficiency for all similar products, or that is at least 10 percent more efficient than the minimum level meeting Canadian federal government standards.
Heavy metal free (e.g., no lead, mercury, cadmium)
Low volatile organic compound (VOC) content, low-toxicity - Chemicals that readily evaporate and contribute to the formation of air pollution when released into the atmosphere. Many VOCs are classified as toxic and carcinogenic.
Renewable materials - Materials made from plant-based feedstock capable of regenerating in less than 200 years such as trees and agricultural products.
Persistent, bio-accumulative toxin (PBT)-free - Toxic chemicals that persist in the environment and increase in concentration through food chains as larger animals consume PBT laden smaller animals. They transfer rather easily among air, water, and land, and span boundaries of programs, geography, and generations. As a result, PBTs pose risks to human health and ecosystems. They are associated with a range of adverse human health effects, including effects on the nervous system, reproductive and developmental problems, cancer, and genetic impact. They include heavy metals and chemicals such as mercury, dioxins, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).
Recycled post-consumer content – Percentage of a product made from materials and by-products recovered or diverted from the solid waste stream after having completed their usefulness as consumer items and used in place of raw or virgin material.
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions Greenhouse gases – Any of several dozen heat-trapping trace gases in the earth's atmosphere that absorb infrared radiation. The two major greenhouse gases are water vapour and carbon dioxide; lesser greenhouse gases include methane, ozone (O3), CFCs, and nitrogen oxides.
Refurbished product – A product that has been completely disassembled and restored to its original working order while maximizing the reuse of its original materials.
Upgradeable - The ability to increase a product’s performance or features without replacing the product.
Water-efficient – A product that is in the upper 25 percent of water efficiency for all similar products.