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environmental sustainability

Santa Monica's Environmental Sustainability

The City of Santa Monica is not only known for its stunning beaches and vibrant culture but also for its commitment to environmental sustainability. This coastal community has made substantial strides in fostering a green and eco-friendly environment through its various initiatives.. In this blog post, we share Santa Monica's exceptional efforts to champion environmental sustainability in all aspects of urban life through its green procurement policy.

📌 Environmental Sustainability at its Core

At the heart of Santa Monica's environmental sustainability efforts lies the vision of  preserving its natural beauty for future generations. This pledge is reflected in the city's rigorous adherence to sustainable procurement practices, which ensures that every purchasing decision considers its impact on the environment. Through this approach, Santa Monica has become a leader in the incorporation of eco-friendly products into daily government operations.

The city has exemplified how a local government can adapt its sustainable procurement practices to create mutually beneficial scenarios for end-users and the environment. Within a short span of time, Santa Monica initiated the purchase of environmentally preferable products and services, including custodial services, fleet maintenance, and pest management. These eco-friendly products and services have not only demonstrated comparable or superior performance to their conventional counterparts but have, in certain instances, led to financial savings as well.

Here are some achievements stemming from Santa Monica's dedicated efforts in green procurement:

- Transition to Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products: Santa Monica has substituted conventional cleaning products with environmentally friendly alternatives across 15 out of 17 cleaning product categories citywide, reducing spending on custodial products and promoting healthier indoor environments.

- Adoption of Integrated Pest Management: The city has embraced an integrated pest management approach at all its facilities, a method that offers cost savings of up to 30% compared to the traditional practice of regular pesticide application.

- Procurement of Recycled Products: It actively sources a diverse range of recycled products, including office paper, recycled paint, and eco-friendly trash can liners. This eco-conscious procurement approach significantly contributes to the reduction of waste and the promotion of a circular economy. 

- Utilization of Re-Refined Motor Oil and Antifreeze: In an effort to prioritize environmental sustainability, Santa Monica has taken steps to ensure that 67.5% of its local government vehicles use re-refined motor oil and antifreeze made with propylene glycol, underscoring the city's commitment to eco-friendly automotive maintenance.

- Alternative Fuels for City Vehicles: Demonstrating its dedication to sustainable transportation, Santa Monica has embraced alternative fuels for its local community fleet. Approximately 20% of the city's vehicles now run on environmentally friendly alternatives such as compressed natural gas, electricity, and propane, reducing emissions and promoting cleaner and greener transportation options within the community.

📌 Eco-Friendly Products: A Top Priority

The use of eco-friendly products in the United States has surged in recent years, driven by increasing awareness of environmental sustainability and a growing commitment to reducing the ecological footprint. Consumers, businesses and government agencies are recognizing the importance of making conscious choices that prioritize the planet's well-being. This shift towards eco-friendly products encompasses a wide range of industries, including household goods, transportation, and packaging. This reflects a broader societal shift towards sustainability as communities aim to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, reduce waste, and promote a healthier environment for current and future generations.

One notable aspect of the eco-friendly product movement in the U.S. is the emphasis on renewable and recycled materials. Companies are increasingly adopting sustainable sourcing practices, utilizing recycled materials, and investing in the development of innovative alternatives to traditional, less environmentally friendly options. Additionally, consumers are actively seeking out products that carry eco-friendly certifications, such as ENERGY STAR, USDA Organic, or Fair Trade, to make informed choices that align with their values. 

Furthermore, government initiatives and regulations have played a pivotal role in promoting the use of eco-friendly products. Federal and state governments have implemented incentives and regulations to encourage the adoption of sustainable practices, from tax incentives for energy-efficient appliances to stricter emissions standards for vehicles. As these policies evolve, they provide a framework for businesses and individuals to embrace eco-friendly products and technologies. The collective effort to integrate eco-friendly products into everyday life in the U.S. underscores the nation's commitment to a more sustainable future and serves as a positive example for global sustainability efforts.

When it comes to assessing local government performance and commitment to the use of eco-friendly products, the City of Santa Monica stands out as an example. The city enforces strict requirements to ensure that bids submitted align with its robust environmental objectives. In all Requests for Proposals (RFPs) issued by the city, vendors are obliged to provide all copies printed on recycled and/or tree-free paper, employing double-sided printing for maximum resource conservation. Furthermore, vendors must adhere to guidelines that dictate the recyclability of report covers or binders, while discouraging the use of plastic covers or dividers. In addition to these specifications, vendors are expected to exercise discretion in submitting only essential attachments or documents explicitly requested, thereby minimizing the use of paper for superfluous elements such as separate title sheets or chapter dividers.

Santa Monica's commitment to environmental sustainability extends to its daily operations, where the city prioritizes the use of eco-friendly products across all departments. From office supplies to cleaning agents, the city actively seeks out and procures eco-friendly alternatives that reduce the overall environmental footprint.

The adoption of energy-efficient LED lighting in public buildings is a notable success in this endeavor. By transitioning to these eco-friendly products, the city has not only decreased energy consumption but also significantly lowered greenhouse gas emissions. This approach exemplifies Santa Monica's dedication to environmental sustainability through its purchasing decisions.

📌 Eco-Friendly Packaging: Reducing Environmental Impact

Eco-friendly packaging, also known as sustainable packaging or green packaging, refers to packaging materials and practices that are designed to have a reduced environmental impact compared to traditional packaging options. The primary goal of eco-friendly packaging is to minimize the negative effects of packaging on the environment throughout its lifecycle, from production and transportation to disposal and recycling. 

Key principles and characteristics of eco-friendly packaging include:

- Materials: Eco-friendly packaging often employs materials that are renewable, recyclable, biodegradable, or made from recycled content, like paper, cardboard, glass, metal, and certain types of plastics easily recyclable.

- Reduced Waste: Eco-friendly packaging aims to minimize waste by using efficient designs that optimize the use of materials, such as using thinner materials, downsizing packaging, and avoiding excessive or unnecessary packaging elements.

- Biodegradability: Some eco-friendly packaging materials can break down naturally and return to the environment without causing long-term harm, AKA, biodegradable.

- Recyclability: Eco-friendly packaging should be easily recyclable through existing recycling systems, promoting a closed-loop system where packaging materials can be collected, processed, and reused to create new products.

- Minimal Environmental Impact: Sustainable packaging takes into account the environmental impact of the entire packaging life cycle, from raw material extraction to manufacturing, transportation, and disposal, seeking to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and other negative effects.

- Alternative Materials: Innovations in eco-friendly packaging often involve alternative materials and technologies, such as mushroom-based packaging, edible packaging, or reusable packaging systems like stainless steel containers or cloth bags.

- Certifications: Many eco-friendly products carry certifications such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for sustainably sourced wood and paper products or labels like "recyclable," "compostable," or "biodegradable" to inform consumers about the packaging's environmental attributes.

- Consumer Education: Eco-friendly packaging may also include informative labels and messaging to educate consumers about proper disposal methods and the benefits of choosing environmentally responsible products.

Santa Monica's Green Procurement Policy places a strong emphasis on eco-friendly packaging, as it plays a pivotal role in minimizing waste and reducing the environmental impact associated with products used throughout the city. Santa Monica’s government encourages its suppliers to embrace eco-friendly packaging solutions, including recyclable, compostable, or reusable materials. This proactive stance not only diverts non-recyclable waste from landfills but also aligns with the city's overarching goal of achieving zero waste.

For instance, the City Council approved a revision to the 2007 Non Recyclable Plastic Food Service Container Ordinance to expand plastics banned to include all single-use plastics for prepared foods, including straws, lids, utensils, plates, bowls, trays, containers, stirrers, cups, and lid plugs. Furthermore, the city extends its commitment to eco-friendly packaging to events and programs, seeking vendors and partners who share its vision of sustainability and prioritize eco-friendly packaging choices.

📌 Sustainable Procurement: A Comprehensive Approach

Santa Monica's Green Procurement Policy represents a holistic approach to sustainability, similarly to San Francisco’s green procurement policy. It acknowledges that eco-friendly products and packaging alone do not guarantee environmental sustainability. Instead, it scrutinizes the entire life cycle of a product, from raw material extraction and manufacturing to transportation and disposal.

By evaluating the environmental impact of products throughout their life cycle, the city can make informed decisions that benefit both the environment and the long-term well-being of the community. 

As the world continues to recognize the importance of eco-friendly products and packaging in mitigating climate change, reducing waste, and promoting a healthier environment, Santa Monica, as other cities around the U.S., stands as a leader in the realm of sustainable procurement. Its commitment to a greener future not only benefits its own community but also serves as a testament to the positive impact that conscious choices can have on our planet. 

Santa Monica's journey toward environmental sustainability powers collective action, and it sets an example to other local governments as they work to create a more sustainable world.


This blog was written by Gisela Montes, GovTech Community Lead at Glass.


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