Friday, April 21, 2000

Buy Recycled Executive Order: Does a Shift to “Buy Recycled” Mean a Change in Purchasing Habits?

The head of each executive agency shall incorporate waste prevention and recycling in the agency’s daily operations and work to increase and expand markets for recovered materials through greater Federal Government preference and demand for such products—Executive Order 13101—September 14, 1998, President William Jefferson Clinton.

The practice of government procurement of recycled goods is an important aspect of recycling economics. Buying recycled helps develop and maintain markets for recyclable materials and close the recycling loop. But, does a shift to “buy recycled” mean a shift in purchasing practices?

When products being purchased are made from steel, the answer is no. Products made from steel always contain a minimum of 25 percent recycled steel and are recyclable at the end of regular use.

The steel industry, along with the Executive Committee of the Congressional Steel Caucus, is working to educate federal cabinets and agencies about steel’s buy-recycled benefits.

In June of 1999, the Executive Committee sent letters to Federal Cabinet Secretaries and Agency heads asking them to report on their progress in implementing Executive Order 1301 as it relates to the increased procurement of steel.

The congressional letter stated that steel is the most recycled product in the world and that more than 60 million tons of steel were recycled last year in the United States. It also included information on the energy savings, stating that “steel recycling results in enough energy being saved to light over 18 million homes for a full year-the equivalent of one month of our nation’s need for electricity.”

The Steel Caucus specifically inquired about departments’ consideration of steel products in areas including: utility poles; housing construction; commercial and office construction; roads; bridges; transportation vehicles; food service operations; parks and maintenance facilities-all of which have quality steel options meeting the Executive Order. Responses are still being received by the Caucus as agencies inventory their procurement practices.

In addition, the Steel Recycling Institute, at the invitation of the Federal Environmental Executive, made a general presentation to the Inter-Agency Executive Order Advisory Group to educate the group about gaining “buy recycled compliance” while procuring quality products made with steel.

Through this general presentation, SRI presented the individual cabinets and agencies with the opportunity for customized presentations based on the needs and procurement habits of the individual cabinets. To date, two procurement presentations have taken place for individual cabinets with future presentations currently being scheduled.

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