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Fresh off the recent passage of the single-use plastic bag ban, the Sustainable Guilford Task Force came before the Board of Selectmen (BOS) on June 17 to discuss another initiative: amending the town’s current purchasing policy for reflect more sustainable practices.
Task Force member Howard Brown brought the proposal to the BOS. He said this change would be a big help in Guilford’s broader initiative to be a certified Sustainable CT town. Sustainable CT is voluntary certification program open to all municipalities and which aims to help towns build their local economies while protecting their natural resources.
According to the program mission statement, the goal is to “provide municipalities with a menu of coordinated, voluntary actions to continually become more sustainable; to provide resources and tools to assist municipalities in implementing sustainability actions and advancing their programs for the benefit of all residents; and to certify and recognize municipalities for their ongoing sustainability achievements.”
Brown said sustainable purchasing is a big area of interest for the Sustainable CT system.
“We looked into it and decided that it is a high priority for us to do first because it’s such a no-brainer,” he said. “It can affect the safety of kids in the schools, the safety of people who use town facilities, it can save money and it continues to make a statement about the town’s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint.”
Brown said he and town attorney Pam Millman looked at other sustainable purchasing polices in place around the state. He said the Guilford policy is modeled off the Town of Glastonbury.
First Selectman Matt Hoey read some of the policy objectives for the audience:
“Encourage town departments to purchase and use products, services, and materials that best align with the town’s fiscal, environmental, social, community, and economic goals; to encourage town departments to conserve natural resources to reduce health and safety risks and the environmental influence of products used in town projects; to reduce or eliminate toxins that create hazards to workers in our community by purchasing products that, for example, use non-bleach or non-chlorine manufacturing processes and are lead and mercury free where feasible.”
Hoey said the policy would also encourage town departments to seek out more environmentally-friendly products and put language in any purchasing or services bid highlighting the town’s commitment to sustainable purchasing to various suppliers and contractors. Hoey said it’s important to note that the language in the policy is flexible.
“Some folks might ask if that is going to hinder what we do in terms of our purchasing and delivery of services,” he said. “There is a line in the policy initiative that basically reads, ‘where possible, practical, and cost effective without reducing quality, safety, or overall workplace effectiveness’ so there is a balance there.”
The BOS unanimously approved the amendment to the purchasing policy. Brown said the hope is these practices will eventually expand beyond town departments.
“Eventually we would want to be able to share the knowledge that we gain about products and services with local businesses,” he said. “I have spoken with Economic Development Coordinator Brian McGlone about this and we would also eventually want to share this with households.”
Visit the town website at www.ci.guilford.ct.us for more information on the task force.
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