Paper > Purchasing

Environmentally preferable paper products can often be purchased at little or no increase in cost. In addition, paper use can often be decreased by taking a few simple steps, such as double-siding copies and reducing the number of printers in use. These measures can reduce your athletics and recreation departments’ or your institution’s overall paper budget.

Contact your purchasing department and any sustainability staff to inquire about campus-wide paper procurement policies. If environmentally preferable paper purchasing is already an institutional policy, ensure your athletics and recreation offices comply with this policy. Consider opportunities to improve upon this standard, such as extending an office paper purchasing policy to encompass tickets, programs and other paper products used in your sports facilities.

To help build staff interest in smarter paper procurement at your sports offices, you may find it valuable to start by calculating the environmental benefits of recycled paper using the Environmental Paper Network’s Paper Calculator tool.

Next, contact your paper suppliers and ask about environmentally preferable alternatives to the variety of paper products that you are currently buying. The specifications below provide a useful guide when speaking to suppliers.

PAPER PRODUCTS SPECIFICATIONS

  • Highest feasible percentage of post-consumer recycled content

  • After maximizing post-consumer content, prioritize pre-consumer recycled content or agricultural residues

  • Ensure any wood fiber is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council

  • Chlorine-free bleaching process

  • Mercury-free pulping process

For more detailed paper procurement specifications, see NRDC’s paper resources, the Global Paper Vision, and the Environmental Paper Network’s Paper Steps.

SAMPLE LETTER TO CURRENT SUPPLIERS

Dear _______,

In an effort to improve the environmental performance of our department and institution, we would like to meet to discuss the environmental attributes of the paper products that you are currently supplying. We would also like to discuss ways to cost-effectively switch to more environmentally preferable products within the next few years.

We are aware that the worldwide demand for paper products creates incentives for harvesting and manufacturing practices that are harmful to the environment. We would like to improve, as much as possible, the environmental performance of our paper consumption. We are particularly interested in improving the following attributes of the paper we buy:

    • Post-consumer recycled content

    • Forest Stewardship Council certification

    • Chlorine-free bleaching processes

    • Mercury-free pulping process

We look forward to speaking with you about this. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

STUDENT INVOLVEMENT

Student involvement in environmental initiatives can reduce demands on staff time and departmental resources. Student involvement can also help attract support from facilities, athletics, recreation, campus administration, and other departments. The following idea is one example of a task for students to conduct in your athletics and recreation offices. This preliminary student project could help facilitate interest in sourcing environmentally preferable paper across all sports offices and institution-wide. Consider encouraging interested students to do the following:

Paper Audit:

Identify any campus-wide paper purchasing policies. Complete a basic paper audit for all sports offices focusing on types and sources of all paper products purchased and used at the athletics and recreation offices. Identify any environmentally preferable features of current paper products. Determine whether all paper products meet campus requirements. Identify opportunities for improvement to sports department sourcing (and campus-wide sourcing). Consider writing up a business plan to encourage alternative paper sourcing options and possible vendors.

Visit the relevant page in this guide for more ideas for Student-Led Project Ideas.

*HELPS EARN AASHE STARS POINTS*

Evaluating the paper purchasing at your sports offices can help your institution earn points within the “Purchasing” subcategory of AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). It can directly contribute to earning 1 point for the credit “OP 14: Office Paper Purchasing.” Work with sustainability and facilities staff on your campus to support any institutional efforts to attain or improve your institution’s STARS rating. Use the STARS 2.0 Technical Manual to learn more.

BENEFITS OF PURCHASING ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERABLE PAPER

The manufacture of virgin paper contributes to global warming, hazardous air and water pollution, and the loss of forests. By purchasing paper products made with recycled fiber, chlorine-free bleaching, and Forest Stewardship Council-certified tree fiber, and following the principles outlined in the Global Paper Vision, you help to reduce these impacts.

COLLEGIATE SPORTS EXAMPLES

The NCAA has implemented environmental paper initiatives at the Final Four Men’s Championship since 2011. For example, in 2011, all copy paper purchased incorporated 30 percent post-consumer recycled content and FSC-certified fiber. Paper towels in Bracket Town bathrooms were comprised of 95 percent total recycled content with 15 percent post-consumer content, and the toilet paper incorporated 80 percent total recycled content with 20 percent post-consumer content. The 2011 Final Four game programs were printed on coated paper including at least 10 percent recycled content and using soy-based ink. All paper used in the Press Room incorporated 30 percent post-consumer recycled content. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

According to office policy, 100 percent of the Yale University athletics department office paper must contain recycled content. Yale Athletics currently uses office paper with 30 percent post-consumer recycled content. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

The University of Washington athletics department office’s green policies include a paper purchasing policy requiring the use of 100 percent recycled content paper products. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

The University of Oregon athletics department’s sustainability committee began their greening initiatives with athletics offices to lead by example. One of their first initiatives was to switch to post-consumer recycled-content paper. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

 As part of the Ivy League Initiative, in April 2012, the Ivy League office established a new policy to print all championship event programs on paper with a minimum of 50 percent post-consumer recycled content. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

PROFESSIONAL SPORTS EXAMPLES

Most paper products purchased for Major League Baseball All-Star events (including invitations, tickets, programs, etc.) include a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer recycled content, and tissue products in stadium restrooms are made from up to 100 percent post-consumer recycled content. Media guides are now available electronically. For the 2012 All-Star Game, the Kansas City Royals also reduced paper use by creating an electronic media guide and transitioning to a digital ticket system. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

Since 2009, the National Basketball Association All-Star Game has incorporated post-consumer recycling paper across the event. Paper products, including Jam Session brochures, credentials, office copy paper, media guides, and tickets, are printed using soy inks on paper with post-consumer recycled content that was manufactured using windpower. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

In 2008, the US Tennis Association switched the paper it used for game day drawsheets to 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, and in so doing saved 2,123 gallons of wastewater and avoided generating 441 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases and 129 pounds of solid waste. Currently, all paper products used on the grounds, including tickets, maps, tournament guides, restaurant passes, parking flyers, and napkins, include at least 30 percent post-consumer content. Many printed materials (program, drawsheet, etc.) are printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. All paper towel dispensers have been replaced with motion-sensor dispensers. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

The National Hockey League eliminated most paper collateral for the NHL Draft, Winter Classic, All-Star Game and Stanley Cup Final by making Media Guides and Year-End Review packets available online only. Tickets were printed on recycled stock. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)
AASHE STARS 2.0 Technical Manual
NRDC – Paper Resources
Global Paper Vision for Transforming the Paper Industry
Environmental Paper Network
Environmental Paper Network’s Paper Steps
Sample contract language – copy paper
Sample contract language – all paper products
EPA – Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines
Canopy Eco-Paper Database
Conservatree’s Environmental Paper Listings
EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database