Step Six: Purchase Environmentally Preferred Products

Purchasing decisions can greatly support your waste reduction and recycling efforts. Choose environmentally preferred products and services - those that have reduced impact on the environment and human health.

Ensure That Your Purchases Support Your Waste Reduction and Recycling Efforts

  • Make a company-wide commitment to purchase environmentally preferred products and services.
  • Identify purchasing opportunities.
  • Revise purchasing policies, ordering practices and product specifications.
  • Set realistic, attainable purchasing goals.
  • With every purchase, ask: "What alternative product that meets our needs is a better choice for the environment?"

Questions to Consider Before Purchasing Any Product

  • Is the product non-hazardous or less hazardous than other choices? Visit Green Seal (http://www.greenseal.org/) for helpful information on purchasing..
  • Is the product reusable, durable or easily repaired?
  • Is the product made from recycled materials or renewable resources (such as plant-based raw materials)?
  • Will a recycled-content product work in place of one made with virgin materials?
  • Does the product conserve energy or water?
  • Is the product refillable or available in bulk quantity to reduce packaging?
  • Is product leasing an option?
  • What happens to the product at the end of its life?
  • Can it be recycled?
  • Does it need special disposal?
  • Will the manufacturer take it back?

Buy Recycled
Recycling is more than collecting, processing, and turning materials into new products. Success only comes when we buy those recycled-content products, thereby closing the recycling loop.

Throughout your business, look for opportunities to substitute recycled-content products for those made from virgin materials - in most cases, their quality is comparable or superior. Look for recycled-content in everything from office products and packaging to building materials and raw materials for manufacturing.

Examples of Environmentally Preferred Purchasing

Equipment

  • Develop maintenance contracts and purchasing specifications for laser printers and copy machines that support the use of recycled-content paper and remanufactured toner cartridges.
  • Purchase used equipment.
  • Purchase or lease copiers and laser printers that automatically copy or print on both sides (duplex printing).

Supplies

  • Specify chlorine free recycled-content paper and soy- or agri-based ink when placing printing orders.
  • Purchase laser, copy and letterhead paper with 30 - 100% post-consumer recycled paper content.
  • Contract with a janitorial service that uses less-hazardous (less toxic) or non-hazardous cleaners.
  • Shop at reuse centers, such as Gorge ReBuild It Center, the Habitat ReStore, or Red’s Trading Post.

Products

  • Tell your vendor to use waste reduction techniques, such as minimal packaging or returnable shipping containers and pallets.
  • Manufacture products and packaging that can be reused or recycled.
  • Evaluate all purchases - think about "cradle to grave" costs such as liability, environmental impacts and employee safety during the manufacture, use and disposal of a product.
  • For more ideas, see the Waste Reduction Checklist.