General Guidelines for Sustainable Purchasing
3R’s - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
In order to conserve natural resources and to protect the environment, to the extent possible, look for products that have the following qualities.
- Quality, function and product life-cycle cost equal or superior to traditional products.
- Durable (long-lasting, reusable, refillable, rechargeable), as opposed to single use or disposable items.
- Manufacturing considerations
- Made of recycled materials, maximizing post-consumer content.
- Remanufactured products, such as laser toner cartridges, tires, furniture, equipment and automotive parts whenever practicable and cost-effective, but without reducing safety or quality.
- Made from raw materials obtained in an environmentally sound sustainable manner.
- Non-toxic or minimally toxic, preferably biodegradable.
- Manufactured in an environmentally sound, sustainable manner.
- Operational considerations
- Minimizes water and energy use in operation.
- Causes minimal or no environmental damage during normal use or maintenance.
- Use of re-refined lubricating and industrial oil for equipment, as long as the product is certified by the American Petroleum Institute (API) as appropriate for use in such equipment.
- Packaging and shipping considerations
- Shipped with minimal packaging, consistent with care of the product.
- Shipping materials should be made of recycled and/or recyclable materials.
- Reused pallets and packaging materials.
- Produced locally or regionally to minimize the environmental costs associated with shipping.
- Available for purchase in multi-paks versus singles.
- Avoid air shipments.
- Product end-of-life management considerations.
- Can it be recycled? Recyclable products are those that after their intended use, can be demonstrably diverted from the University’s solid waste stream for use as a raw material in the manufacture of another product, preferably higher value uses.
- Can recycling occur in the immediate area?
- Can the product be reused? Reusable products can be used several times for an intended use before being discarded. Examples include washable food or beverage containers or refillable ballpoint pens.
- If it cannot be recycled or reused, can it be disposed of safely?
- Product disposition should minimize materials that are sent to landfills.
Regulations applicable to the University
- For state-funded research grants, the Commonwealth Procurement Code Act 57 of 1998, section 108 Recycled Materials, encourages use of recycled products over the small procurement limit (currently $10,000).
- The EPA also has guidelines for ‘goods, supplies, equipment, materials and printing” using recycled content, and has a certification process for suppliers to use (see the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976). Under state-funded research grants, the State of Pennsylvania provides a preference equal to 5% of the bid amount to any vendor providing the EPA certification (see, Title 53 P.S. Chapter 15, section 4000.1505.
The Purchasing department is currently working with University-based and industry experts to develop detailed and technical sustainable purchasing guidance for specific commodities such as chemicals, medical supplies, furniture and wood products.