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Issues in Our Communities
Procurement and Disposal
"Buying green" means evaluating what you buy for its environmental impact. The first step may simply be reconsidering if you really need to buy something at all. After all, the less you purchase, the less waste and pollution you create, and the less energy and resources you consume.
When you do make a purchase it means choosing products with the least environmental impact. These kinds of products can often by identified by an ecolabel. An ecolabel identifies products that have been measured and certified for characteristics that demonstrate environmental leadership.
In Canada there are two types of government-backed ecolabelling programs. The Environmental Choice Program provides the EcoLogo™ to environmentally leading products and services. It is owned by Environment Canada, and managed by TerraChoice Environmental Marketing. The ENERGY STAR program identifies the most energy efficient products on the market. Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency promotes the international ENERGY STAR symbol across Canada.
For more information on buying green, consult the publication entitled Shop Smart, Buy Green: A Consumer's Guide to Saving Money and Reducing Environmental Impacts (PDF; 716 KB) or visit the following web sites:
- Good Stuff? – A Behind-the-Scenes Guide to the Things We Buy
- A Consumer Guide to Green Power
- Ethiquette: The Responsible Consumer Network
You could also conduct a sector search of the Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (CPPIC) database. Conduct a sector search by choosing the category "Other Services" and then selecting the sector "Private Households". On the "Sector Search – Criteria" page, choose purchasing/procurement from the "Subject" drop down menu and then follow the instructions to further refine your search.
EcoLogo™ products are easily identified by the “three doves” symbol of certification.
Many office products such as photocopiers, cleaners and paper products are certified. EcoLogo™ products are also sold by retailers across the country and range from paper products, office equipment and furniture to composting toilets and renewable low impact energy sources.
By choosing EcoLogo™ you are buying products that have been assessed for their environmental impacts across their entire life cycle – that is from when the raw materials are acquired through to the manufacturing, transportation, distribution, use and the disposal of the product. EcoLogo™ products are the “best in class” on issues such as energy use, amount of recycled material, hazardous substances and water use.
All EcoLogo products must be audited by a third-party to verify performance and environmental claims. Products are also expected to improve over the years, and the bar set for environmental performance is raised every few years.
For a complete listing of EcoLogo™ certified products, visit the EcoLogo™ Program website.
The international ENERGY STAR symbol is a simple way for consumers to identify products that are among the most energy-efficient on the market. Only manufacturers and retailers whose products meet the ENERGY STAR criteria can label their products with this symbol.
For major appliances and heating and cooling products, ENERGY STAR works in conjunction with the EnerGuide rating program – while EnerGuide provides information on energy performance of all appliances, ENERGY STAR identifies the top performers. By choosing ENERGY STAR labelled products, you will save energy and money on utility bills, and reduce air pollution and GHG emissions without sacrificing the features, versatility or style you can expect from high-performing products.
Take it Back!
Do you ever have household and hazardous waste products, such as an old computer or medication, that you no longer need but do not know how to handle for disposal? It is often the case that many of our used or broken consumer products end up in local landfills. However, waste management programs such as the Take it Back! program in Ottawa, Ontario, offers citizens a more convenient option to dispose of some of their household and hazardous waste products. Although these programs are not directly practising pollution prevention, they are working to decrease our waste in landfills.
With the Take it Back! program, retailers volunteer to be part of the program and agree to take back items from consumers and either reuse, recycle or dispose of them in a responsible manner. Each waste management program will accept different types of products depending on the retailers participating.
Visit your local municipal government to see if there is a similar program in place in your community.
For more information on household waste management, conduct a sector search of the CPPIC database by choosing the category Other Services and then selecting the sector "Private Households". On the "Sector Search – Criteria" page, choose disposal from the "Activity" drop down menu and then follow the instructions to further refine your search.
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