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Recycled-Content Paper Policy in CAM (In Progress)

Project History

Description

Paper plays a key role in University of Illinois operations. The University is concerned about the future of the world’s forests and the environmental impacts of paper production, such as energy consumption (and associated carbon emissions), water usage, and waste production.  State universities and other government units can take simple actions to reduce harmful impacts associated with paper purchases, including reducing usage (such as electronic rather than paper distributions, and double-sided printing), buying products with high post-consumer recycled content, and purchasing products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or an equivalent certification system.

Subject to certain limited exceptions, the Illinois Procurement Code mandates the use of recycled materials (30 ILCS 500/45-20) and recyclable paper (30 ILCS 500/45-25) and requires state agencies to contract for supplies and services that are environmentally preferable (30 ILCS 500/45-26).  The University is committed to using and purchasing paper and paper products in ways that protect endangered forests, indigenous communities and their associated biodiversity, reduce pollution, decrease energy consumption, and minimize waste.

Background

Purchasing recycled-content paper and paper products has far-reaching environmental benefits and will encourage suppliers to increase their capabilities in providing these products at competitive prices.  To support campus sustainability procurement efforts, units can:

  1. Purchase and source paper and paper products that contain 30% or higher post-consumer recycled content.
  2. Give preference in purchasing decisions to paper and paper products with post-consumer recycled content verified by an independent, third-party organization, such as the FSC or an equivalent certification system. 
  3. Give preference in purchasing decisions to paper and paper products that also contain other recovered materials or rapidly renewable products (e.g. pre-consumer recycled content, agricultural residues, bamboo, etc.) after maximizing post-consumer recycled content. 
  4. Give preference in purchasing decisions to paper and paper products produced by sustainable forestry practices verified by an independent, third-party organization, such as the FSC or an equivalent certification system, after maximizing post-consumer recycled content.

Examples of where products cannot be used to meet the specified requirements or where doing so would constitute undue economic or practical hardship include, but are not limited to, cases where:

  • Copying or printing equipment in use has been demonstrated to be incompatible with commercially available recycled paper;
  • Appropriate recycled paper is not available (e.g., non-standard colors or thickness); or
  • The cost of recycled content paper is excessive compared to non-recycled content products.  If the premium for recycled content is 10% or less, this can be presumed not to be a hardship.

Preference may also be given to paper and paper products containing other recovered materials or rapidly renewable products, either alone or in combination with post-consumer recycled paper content, provided the products are at least as environmentally friendly as 30% recycled paper content paper and paper products.

Certification systems equivalent to the FSC may be considered if their performance-based forest management and chain of custody standards meet or exceed FSC’s standards; their governance and funding mechanisms are fully balanced, transparent, and independent; and they are widely accepted by environmental and social stakeholders.

The Environmental Paper Network provides tools and resources to help assess the many aspects of environmentally responsible paper (http://environmentalpaper.org/buy-responsibly/ecopaper-toolkit-purchasers/). The Paper Steps: http://environmentalpaper.org/paper-steps/ is helpful in understanding the components of paper and paper that meets the level of “Environmentally Improved Paper.”

Website URL(s)

Project Team

  • Project Leader:

    Morgan Johnston

    Team Members:

    • Ben McCall
    • Cindy Klein-Banai
    • Dave Grogan
    • Dan Sjazna

Dates

  • Proposed May 4, 2016
    Proposed by Ben McCall
    Investigated July 18, 2017
    Investigated by Morgan Johnston

Themes