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The Purchasing Department continuously works with vendors to encourage more efficient manufacturing processes that conform to the University's evolving sustainability requirements. As part of Princeton's Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) initiative, a Life Cycle vendor model recently has been developed to aid Princeton's sustainable purchasing decisions.

Figure 6: Paper Purchases

The University purchased 34 fewer tons of paper in 2010 than 2009, avoiding the use of 140 tons of wood products and the emission of 96 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Click to enlarge.

Goals & Progress

  1. Goal: Improve the sustainability performance of purchased goods and services.

    • In fiscal year 2010, 84 percent of departments complied with the 100 percent post-consumer recycled chlorine-free paper policy, a slight decrease from FY09, when 86 percent complied.
    • The University purchased 34 fewer tons of paper in 2010 than 2009, avoiding the use of 140 tons of wood products and the emission of 96 metric tons of CO2. If each saved sheet of paper was stacked, the pile would be more than 2,260 feet tall — equivalent in height to almost two Empire State Buildings. A total of 81 percent of the amount purchased was 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled chlorine-free paper, compared to 77 percent in 2009. Since 2008, the University has purchased 62 fewer tons of paper.
    • In fiscal year 2010, the University used 6,617 toner/ink cartridges, 11 percent of which were re-manufactured. Purchasing re-manufactured product saved an estimated 1,436 pounds of plastic and metal, and 538 gallons of petroleum; the University also recycled 2,296 cartridges.
    • Princeton's Purchasing Department continued to provide OfficeMax with reusable boxes for office supply deliveries in 2010, avoiding the use and disposal of 751 corrugated boxes per month.
    • The University purchases only environmentally preferable computers, which are ENERGY STAR and EPEAT registered products.
    • The Purchasing Department has featured at its annual Purchasing Supplier Fair a section for environmentally preferable products since 2002, with increasing interest from the University community since the adoption of the Sustainability Plan in 2008.
  2. Goal: Standardize electric carts and ultra-low or zero-emission vehicles when University vehicles are replaced or purchased new.

    Progress: A vehicle replacement program calling for low-emission vehicles is in progress, starting with the adoption in early 2010 of a campus passenger electric golf cart policy. Since 2007, 41 percent of the campus vehicles purchased were electric or hybrid.
  3. Goal: Purchase 100 percent Green Seal-certified daily use cleaning products.

    Progress: More than 33 percent by volume (60 percent by dollars spent) of chemical cleaners and soaps purchased in 2010 were Green Seal certified.
  4. Goal: Develop a Life Cycle Assessment model to aid in sustainable purchasing decisions.

    Progress: A draft vendor Life Cycle Assessment model has been developed and introduced to senior purchasing agents for testing.

What's Next

Short Term

  • Increase purchases of re-manufactured toner cartridges from 11 to 20 percent by the end of fiscal year 2011.
  • Increase the toner cartridge recycling program from a current approximate rate of 35 percent to 40 percent by end of fiscal year 2011.
  • Continue to seek options for specialty cleaning products that are Green Seal certified, of equivalent.
  • Conduct a pilot program to consolidate office supply deliveries to campus from five days to four days per week.
  • Consolidate printing and copying by purchasing multi-use copy machines, which are expected to reduce paper and toner cartridge usage, and promote the scan-to-e-mail function of existing copiers.
  • Standardize the purchase of appliances for off-campus housing to comply with the University's commitment to ENERGY STAR products.
  • Explore the feasibility of specialty item recycling efforts to raise awareness on campus, such as a University-wide pen recycling program.

Long Term

  • Increase departmental compliance with 100 percent recycled paper purchasing policy from current 84 percent to 100 percent.
  • Develop more advanced Life Cycle Assessment modeling techniques to effectively incorporate sustainability into daily purchasing operations.
  • Pending additional funding for the LCA program internship, develop a joint pre-certification program with Rutgers University that will allow other institutions to realize the benefits of pre-certified vendors who use the best environmental practices.

Awards & Achievements

Princeton's Purchasing Department was awarded a 2010 Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award (.pdf), which is based in part on environmental purchasing. The department has now earned this award for seven consecutive years. 

OfficeMax box

These reusable bins help to prevent the need to dispose of or recycle over 750 corrugated cardboard boxes per month on campus.

Toner cartridge

In fiscal year 2010, the University used 11 percent re-manufactured toner cartridges and recycled 2,296 cartridges.


Lessons Learned

Focus of Life Cycle Assessment on vendor behavior rather than products: The Purchasing Department's Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) project has evolved from a model that analyzes the entire life cycle of thousands of products, to one that instead addresses the environmental impacts of prospective vendors. The Princeton LCA model can efficiently identify key environmental issues throughout a vendor's operations and provide key evaluation data for the University's purchasing agents.