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SEEPP leaders in Canada

Sustainable, ethical and environmental procurement is an important trend among public sector institutions in Canada, especially Canadian municipalities. 

A few Canadian municipalities have taken a leadership position in moving towards full sustainability policies that the cities of Vancouver and Toronto are two prominent examples.  A number of American municipalities have also instituted sustainable, ethical and environmental purchasing. Several other North American non-governmental organizations have broken new ground with SEEPP programs and policies, such as Mountain Equipment Co-op and BC Hydro.

Some sustainability policy leaders and their achievements include:

City of Vancouver

  • Key Initiatives: Ethical Purchasing Policy & Supplier Code of Conduct, which includes core labour conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and outlines a remedial action process for complaints of abuses in certain workplaces where products are purchased by the City.  In February 2005, the City initiated Phase II of the development of a comprehensive Sustainable and Ethical Procurement Policy
  • Date Implemented: December 2004
  • Major Guidelines and Criteria Employed: ILO Labour Conventions; Fair Trade; City Mission Statement and Values
  • Scope of Policy and/or Program: apparel and fair trade agricultural products
  • Status of Implementation: implementation with limited resources due to City budget cuts

City of Toronto

  • Key Initiatives: Toronto has an environmentally responsible procurement policy which considers the long-term and complete costs and benefits of environmentally responsible procurement and is applied in the evaluation of all quotations, proposals and tenders received in determining the successful bidders. In2003, City Council updated its Fair Wage Policy and Procedures, and approved changes to the Fair Wage Rate Schedule.
  • Date Implemented: October 1999
  • Major Guidelines and Criteria Employed: Fair Trade, the Employment Standards Act, Human Rights Code, Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Criminal Code; Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act
  • Scope of Policy and/or Program: durable products, reusable products, energy efficient products, low pollution products, products that contain the maximum level of post-consumer waste and/or recyclable content; garments and uniforms
  • Status of Implementation: approved and ongoing

Mountain Equipment Co-op

  • Key Initiatives: has a number of policies and sustainable purchasing activities in place that range from ensuring products are free of old growth wood, to master plans for energy and waste reduction, to green building specifications for corporate facilities.  MEC has a Supplier Code of Conduct that mandates facility checks abroad to ensure proper working conditions for labourers.  Senior executives even have sustainability targets included in their performance plans and bonuses linked to achieving them. 
  • Date Implemented: 1990s
  • Major Guidelines and Criteria Employed: preference for reclaimed or post-consumer recycled material, independently certified second-growth forest sources, agricultural waste fiber, and products that are chlorine free; Natural Resource Canada's C2000 Green Building Standard; zero waste; zero emissions; organic cotton; PVC-free synthetics
  • Scope of Policy and/or Program: MEC-designed retail products and corporate supplies and equipment
  • Status of Implementation: approved and ongoing

BC Hydro

  • Key Initiatives: 15 Long Term Goals (20 year time frame) of which one is to have "no net incremental environmental impact" and another is that "100% of suppliers have demonstrated values congruent with those of BC Hydro"; review of strategic and international suppliers; Social Responsibility Policy to ensure supplier performance
  • Date Implemented: 2005
  • Major Guidelines and Criteria Employed: emphasis on including clauses in tenders about product disposal – particularly those that are hazardous or difficult to recycle.  BC Hydro has successfully eliminated the use of chloride in the treatment of its electrical poles.  It is nearing complete elimination of PCBs in all its transformers, and is now focusing on eliminating its use of Styrofoam
  • Scope of Policy and/or Program: scope will extend to 100% of suppliers over 20 year timeframe
  • Status of Implementation: approved and ongoing

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