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Develop Sustainable Purchasing Policies (Ongoing)

Recent Project Updates

  • 7/18/2023

    F&S Policy on the purchase of paper states that, "When purchasing paper for copiers and printers, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified products with a minimum of 30 percent recycled content must be selected."

  • 12/8/2022

    On December 8th, the Zero Waste iCAP team met to discuss a new approach to creating recommendations for next semester.


The 2015 iCAP, chapter 6, objective 1, is "By FY17, environmental standards will be applied to purchases of office paper, cleaning products, computers, other electronics, and freight/package delivery services. At least 50% of purchases in these categories will meet campus standards by FY20, and 75% by FY25."

  • For office paper, the Purchasing, Waste, and Recycling SWATeam has proposed an update to the current paper policy ( to include using paper efficiently and purchasing paper products with contents verified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or an equivalent certification system, as required by Illinois Procurement Code Sec. 45-25 Recyclable Supplies—30 ILCS 500/45-25.
  • For cleaning products, F&S is updating the basic cleaning supplies for the majority of campus buildings to green seal certified cleaners.
  • For computers and other electronics, the Illini Gadget Garage is a collaborative repair center for student and staff owned electronic devices, which can extend the useful life of products, and thus conserve the natural and human resources invested in their manufacture. The campus has a policy regarding the procurement of electronics:
  • For freight/package delivery, Dining Services joined the SmartWay Transport Partnership in 2013.

Additionally, University Sourcing has developed the following language for inclusion in requests for proposals (RFPs). This language describes the University’s commitment to sustainable practices and requests responding vendors to provide a sustainability plan as part of their bidding documentation response. The message is clear: we are committed and expect our potential vendors to share in our vision of sustainable practices.

“In support of the global sustainability initiative, the State of Illinois has enacted legislation addressing Environmentally Preferable Procurement (30 ILCS 500/45-26).

The University of Illinois has made a formal commitment to sustainability as evidenced by being a signatory of the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact and the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The University has also created campus level offices of Sustainability to support the initiative locally.

University Sourcing has a formal Sustainable Purchasing Policy which further articulates the University’s Sustainability Initiative. It is anticipated that vendors desiring to do business with the University share in our sustainable vision by specific and documented actions. As such, these items are requested in the form of a Sustainability Plan to be submitted with this RFP.  Targeted areas for inclusion in the plan would include:

  • Source Reduction
  • Recycled Content and Products
  • Energy and Water Savings
  • Toxic Products and Pollution Prevention.

The responsible and responsive bidder shall provide a detailed narrative in support of these elements including documentation of policy and specific periodic updates detailing progress of the sustainably efforts. Any sustainability/green certification programs which the bidder is engaged in or received recognition for achievement shall be provided as well.”


Environmental standards are the most effective and necessary way to reach the goal of zero waste. To make effective environmental standards, we should make continuous efforts, not only in the establishment, but also in the amendments and implements. We should:

Develop Campus Environmental Purchasing Standards

Decisions about the purchasing of many products are handled in a very decentralized fashion on our campus. The University purchasing process ensures that such purchases meet various federal and state requirements. However, the process does not effectively apply standards or preferences to select vendors and products having low life-cycle carbon emissions and low embodied energy.

The campus could apply standards for the purchases of certain major categories of products; for example, office paper (at least 30% recycled content), cleaning products (Green Seal), computers (EPEAT Silver), other electronics (Energy Star), and freight/package delivery services (EPA SmartWay). Also, the campus could identify environmental standards applicable to additional major categories of purchases. Compliance with these environmental standards should be required, or at least given significant weight, in purchasing decisions. Campus could revise its purchasing systems to curtail purchases of products and services which fail to satisfy selected environmental standards and preferences.

Utilize Standards from Other Organizations

The campus could also apply sustainable purchasing tools and standards provided by the U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. EPA, State of Illinois Central Management Services, and other certifying organizations. It could also utilize and expand purchasing contracts that apply certified environmental standards and preferences, including contracts available for State of Illinois agencies and collectives of universities.

Track Compliance with Campus Standards

The University purchasing process could be enhanced to explicitly track purchases for compliance with campus environmental standards, so that it would be straightforward to measure progress. For example, the process could track the number of computer purchases that are EPEAT Silver and which campus units are falling short in applying this standard.

Promote Sustainable Purchasing

The iSEE Certified Green Office Program has been developed to engage campus units and vendors to improve campus sustainability in many areas, including reducing purchases and their associated emissions. This program could be expanded to more units, and could also include more types of sustainable purchasing practices. A similar campaign could also solicit and apply students’ suggestions on reducing paper and other products used in classes and buildings. The Office of Business and Financial Services (OBFS) and its purchasing divisions could play a key role in an expanded program promoting sustainable purchasing by adopting goals to reduce purchases and to purchase sustainable products. The campus could also consider applying surcharges to the prices of any noncompliant purchases (through the purchasing system and other mechanisms) to encourage environmentally preferred purchases and recycling.

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6.1 Percent of Paper Purchased from OfficeMax with Recycled-Content