Suppliers > Purchasing Policy

Many institutions have instituted purchasing policies that give preference to environmentally intelligent products in an effort to enhance their ecological performance.

If your institution has an environmental purchasing policy in place, investigate ways to better integrate the goals, strategies and recommendations of that guiding document into the athletics and recreation departments’ policies and operations. Meet with the staff overseeing the implementation of the campus-wide purchasing policy and discuss opportunities to meet the school’s environmental procurement goals in all sports facilities. Ensure that your environmental purchasing policy is integrated with your campus “sustainability plan” or “climate action plan.”

Publicize the athletics and recreation departments’ commitment to the institution’s environmental purchasing policy on their respective websites. Suggest ways for the campus sports community–athletes, coaches, fans and visitors–to also purchase environmentally preferable products and support your sports departments’ and institution’s environmental goals.

If your school does not have an environmental purchasing policy, consider creating your own departmental purchasing policy using the sample policy below. Collaborate with campus administration, professors, any sustainability staff, and other experts on campus to build a model environmental purchasing policy for your sports department. Work with other departments across your institution to encourage campus-wide adoption of the policy.

An environmental purchasing policy sends a clear message to students, alumni, staff, employees, vendors, and the community at large about your priorities for sustainability. It’s a meaningful first step in any effort to improve an institution’s environmental performance.


The goal of this purchasing policy is to ensure that products and services purchased by or contracted for [our department/institution] conform to [the department’s/institution’s] Environmental Policy. [Our department/institution] will strive, where feasible, to purchase environmentally preferable products and services that meet the organization’s needs.

Where possible, purchasing decisions shall favor:

  • Products that contain the highest percentage of postconsumer recycled content possible
  • Products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or are made with renewable energy
  • Products that are reusable, recyclable or bio-based/compostable
  • Products that eliminate or reduce the use of chemicals hazardous to the environment and public health
  • Products that reduce air and water pollution
  • Products with minimal packaging
  • Suppliers that provide environmentally preferable products and can document the supply-chain impacts of their efforts
  • Products that serve several functions (e.g. multipurpose cleaner) and reduce the overall number of products purchased

Environmentally preferable products and services that are of comparable quality and price to their standard counterparts shall receive purchasing preference. In situations where environmentally preferable products are unavailable or impractical, secondary considerations shall include the environmental management practices of suppliers and producers.

The purchase of environmentally preferable products is part of our department’s/institution’s long-term commitment to students, fans, employees, our community, and the environment. By sending a clear signal to producers and suppliers, [our department/institution] hopes to support wider adoption of environmentally preferable products and practices.


Purchasing policies can be as prescriptive (or aspirational) as your department/institution chooses. In some cases, environmentally preferable products can be purchased at little or no increase in cost. And in those cases where the price of environmentally superior products exceeds those currently used, the increased cost can sometimes be mitigated by more efficient operations. Recycled paper, for example, sometimes costs more than virgin paper. However, this cost can usually be offset by double-sided printing and other reductions in paper use.

A sports department-wide, and ideally institution-wide, purchasing policy encourages sustainable purchasing practices at all levels of the institution and helps ensure that green efforts are not diminished with employee turnover. Purchasing policies should be comprehensive and cover a wide range of products and services. Policies can vary widely, and you should implement a policy that works best for your facilities and institution.


Pursuing environmentally preferable purchasing at your sports offices can help your institution earn up to 6 points within the “Purchasing” subcategory of AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). 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.



Portland Trail Blazers Purchasing Policy
Sony Corp.
Bank of America


AASHE: Resources on Sustainable Purchasing on Campus
AASHE: Campus Sustainability Policy Bank
AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)
AASHE STARS 2.0 Technical Manual
International Institute for Sustainable Development: Sustainable School and Campus Policies
University of Washington Case Study: Apparel Purchasing & Licensing
A Common Vision for Transforming the Paper Industry
EPA – Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines: Supplier Database
EPA – Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database
Environmental Benefits and Cost Savings Calculator for Purchasers
Center for a New American Dream – Green Purchasing
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Environmentally Preferable Purchasing