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Property, Business and Regulatory Services

Green Buying Guide – Responsible and practical green procurement

Green Public Procurement is increasingly regarded as a means of improving the environment and sustaining local communities. Hampshire County Council has established a Sustainable Development Strategy with a focus on the way services are delivered and operated whilst promoting and leading sustainable development among Hampshire people.

Specific advice for purchasers...

Go to next page for advice on green purchasing:

Paints and Varnishes, Photocopiers, Pool Chemicals, Refrigerators, Stationery, Vehicles and Fuel, Washing Machines.

Also see Symbols and Labelling for advice on the various symbols used.


  • Butane is flammable and can cause breathing difficulties when inhaled.
  • Although Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and butane aerosol propellants do not have any significant effect on ozone depletion, they are both greenhouse gases.
  • Aerosol canister Even CFC (Chlorofluorocarbon) free aerosols use non-renewable resources and are not easily recycled or refilled.
  • HFC and HCFC (Hydrochlorofluorocarbon) propellants are not as bad as CFCs in terms of ozone depletion. However, they are still greenhouse gases.
  • Halons used in fire extinguishers are the worst ozone depleters of all and are also toxic.

How to buy green...

  • CFCs which cause ozone depletion are now outlawed and have disappeared from use as aerosol propellants.
  • Refillable pump sprays should be used wherever possible as an alternative to aerosols. However, some products need the fine droplet sprays which only an aerosol or an industrial compressor can give.
  • Although the widespread use of CFCs in new products has largely been phased out in this country, there are still a large number of old fridges and freezers around which contain CFCs. As these are disposed of, they should be handed over to the Cleansing Departments of Local Councils or other reputable bodies so that the CFCs can be extracted from the equipment. Other ozone-depleting gases such as HCFCs and halons (often found in vehicle fire extinguishers) should be disposed of in the same way.



  • Before 1992, many batteries were made of various toxic metals such as cadmium and mercury. The metals and acid often leaked from the batteries when disposed of in landfill sites, or polluted the air when incinerated.
  • Batteries require more energy to produce than they actually generate during their lifetime.
  • Small batteries are often thrown away.

How to buy green...

  • Since 1992 the maximum levels of mercury permitted in batteries has been strictly controlled.
  • Rechargeable batteries are a better alternative to disposable batteries, although they should still be disposed of carefully at the end of their life. They can be recharged up to 1000 times and therefore, in many cases, can work out significantly cheaper to use. However, rechargeable batteries cost two and a half times more than normal batteries and require a charging unit. Also, they do not hold their charge as well as disposable batteries.
  • Mercury and cadmium-free long-life batteries are now readily available and are preferable to standard zinc/carbon batteries.
  • Lead acid batteries are economical to recycle when disposing, make sure they go to a Council-recognised recycling point.
  • Purchase mains operated or solar powered equipment where possible.


Cleaning Materials

  • Cleaning materials contain various chemicals that can build up in the environment and cause pollution.
  • Powder detergents often contain phosphates. These act as comparatively low-cost water softeners but when they are discharged into slow-running streams and rivers, they can cause the growth of algal blooms and oxygen starvation of the water.
Cleaning chemicals

How to buy green...

  • All detergents sold in this country must be biodegradable (80% in 18 days).
  • Where possible the use of phosphate powder detergents should be carefully dosed (over the last ten years the European Union and detergent manufacturers have set up a continuing scheme to gradually reduce the the levels of phosphate and other 'fillers' in laundry powders and replace them with more environmentally-responsible components).
  • Products containing caustic compounds which can be harmful to users and the environment should be avoided or handled with caution.
  • Toilet blocks containing Paradichlorobenzene (PDCB) should be avoided where possible. PDCB, when released into rivers and streams, has a damaging effect upon aquatic plants and marine life. Toilet blocks supplied by County Supplies are PDCB-free.
  • Use concentrated detergents and ensure they are correctly diluted.



  • Old, badly designed cookers can be very wasteful of energy.
  • Equipment disposed of carelessly will pollute the environment.

How to buy green...

  • Energy-saving designs, including good insulation of the oven, should be sought.
  • Gas is better than electricity because it uses 66% less energy.
  • Dispose of old equipment responsibly. Contact the waste and recycling department of your local council.


Cutlery items


  • Plastic disposable cutlery is wasteful of resources.

How to buy green...

  • County Supplies stocks a range of stainless steel cutlery which is excellent value for money and offers a long life.
  • Only use disposable cutlery when the washing and re-using of more durable cutlery is not possible.



  • The energy and fuel consumed in the transportation of out-of-season food from foreign sources and the exportation of food crops from Third World countries is a major contributor to global warming and does not support local farmers and producers.
  • Intensive farming and agriculture makes extensive use of environmentally damaging fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides. It also contributes to the loss of forests and natural wildlife habitats.
  • Details of Hampshire County Council's sustainable food purchasing achievements are available on this website. Please see our Food Purchasing in Hampshire page.
Local chicken

How to buy green...

  • Purchase locally produced foods.
  • Where possible, purchase ethically grown and/or farmed products.
  • Consider purchasing foods that are 'in season'.
  • For special functions, consider using products produced by members of Hampshire Fare.


Furniture and Timber

  • Certain countries may depend on exports to fund their development. This can result in the clearing of rainforests and the subsequent production of environmentally damaging cash crops.
  • Over-use of tropical timber products is a major cause of deforestation. This leads to soil erosion, loss of wildlife habitats and an increase in Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • Certain preservatives, glues and resins, used in the manufacture and maintenance of furniture and timber products, are environmental pollutants.

How to buy green...

  • Purchase furniture and timber products from certified sustainable sources, manufactured using non-hazardous components.
  • Detachable components ensure ease of repair and each part should be recyclable.
  • Purchase plywood and chipboard manufactured with low formaldehyde resins and glues.
  • Natural fibre stuffings for cushions, padding and upholstery are better than polyurethane foam which is a potential fire hazard.
  • Avoiding buying tropical hardwood products from non-sustainable sources.
  • Often softwoods and hardwoods from well managed temperate forests can be used. However, if a heavy use of preservatives is required, this will be counter-productive.
  • Avoid timber preservatives containing pentachlorophenol or tributylin oxide.
  • Green Heart timber from tropical sources contains its own natural preservative and is still the best material for use in structures which are immersed in water.
  • Wood derived from tropical forests which comply with the Forest Stewardship Council is preferable to wood sourced from badly-managed temperate forests.



  • Pesticides and herbicides contain various chemicals that are potentially harmful to human health and the environment. Water-soluble pestides can contaminate water courses and soil. Other forms of pesticide, when carried by wind and rain, can accumulate to toxic levels and threaten fish and other wildlife.
  • The extraction of peat from natural wetlands in Yorkshire, Somerset and Lancashire destroys important wildlife habitats.

How to buy green...

  • Many pesticides and herbicides previously on the market have now been withdrawn. Use only currently certified products and ensure they are COSHH registered.
  • Pesticides containing atrazine and simazine should not be used as they have been found to pollute watercourses and other water supplies.
  • Wherever possible use chemical-free weeding techniques such as burning. Use mulches to suppress the growth of weeds.
  • Consider plants that naturally deter pests or encourage predators.
  • Use peat-free compost ideally made from household waste such as Hampshire Pro-Grow soil conditioner. Other peat alternatives are organic manure, coir (coconut fibre) and composted bark.
  • Avoid products appearing on the UK Red List or EU Black and Grey lists of hazardous substances.



  • Conventional filament lightbulbs use more electricity than low energy varieties.
Low energy bulb

How to buy green...

  • Consider using low energy lightbulbs or compact fluorescent lamps. They use 20% of the electricity of a conventional filament lamp and last ten times longer. Energy and money can be saved by fitting low energy bulbs and lamps.
  • When designing new buildings or refurbishing existing ones, specify either fluorescent tubes or fittings which will accept them.



  • Paper made from virgin (new) wood pulp is often described as coming from sustainable forests. However, often 'replanting' means replacing natural mixed forest with a monoculture of trees which is not good for wildlife.
  • Much energy is used during the pulping process and sulphur dioxide is produced. Bleaching the pulp may use chlorine which is a direct pollutant and will deplete the ozone layer.
  • The production of paper from virgin wood pulp uses large quantities of water.

How to buy green...

  • Recycled paper causes less environmental damage to forests. Less energy is used in its production, resulting in less pollution and less landfill waste.
  • Recycled paper helps reduce the bill for the importation of pulp.
  • Where possible, use paper sourced from 100% Post Consumer Waste (PCW). Where a 'higher grade' (better quality) of paper is required, look for paper which contains a high level of PCW even if it is mixed with virgin pulp.
  • Environmentally responsible papers sometimes use virgin pulp but no chlorine bleach. They may also use waste fibre.
  • Tropical hardwoods are NOT used for paper production but in some countries (e.g. Brazil and Indonesia) rainforests have been cut down to make way for plantations of eucalyptus and acacia which may be used for paper manufacture.
  • Paper labelling is slowly becoming more informative and accurately describes the paper's source and whether it is from post-consumer waste, mill-broke or other pre-consumer sources.



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