While recycling has become mainstream in the last decade, it still has a long way to go to curb the amount of waste produced by Americans. With its beginnings as a grassroots movement, itıs amazing that recycling has survived.

People collected recyclables before the markets were developed. The collection of the materials was a factor in stimulating the use of recycled materials in new consumer products. BUT, recycling will only work if there is a market for the products that come from the recyclables that are collected and reprocessed and that is directly fueled by consumer demand of recycled products.

The symbol that represents recycling, features three arrows chasing each other. This "loop" illustrates how recycling is dependent on people not only recycling what they use, but also purchasing recycled products. This message was broadcast to the public by the Environmental Defense Fund when the group adopted the slogan: "If youıre not buying recycled products, you're not recycling."

One of the easiest places to start closing the loop is in your home office. One of the widest varieties of recycled content products are available for the home office. In copy paper alone, there are numerous choices for recycled content copy paper. Almost everything in the home office can be purchased from products made from recycled content (or reused). You can easily identify and purchase the following recycled products: file folders, copy/printer paper, notepads, clipboards, notebooks, refillable pens, recycling/waste containers and furniture. Even pencils are now made from many different recycled products, including jeans and money.

The key to buying recycled products is reading labels. Look for the trademark arrows of the recycling symbol and check the percent of post consumer content. Many paper products promote themselves as recycled, but come from industrial surplus (called pre-consumer) that would be recycled anyway. Post consumer means that the material has already been used by another person and it is being recycled to you. The box that the product comes in can also indicate if it is recycled or not. If paper comes packaged in paperboard it is more likely to be from recycled paper, as paperboard typically is made with high recycled content.

Many office supply catalogs have sections in the back especially for recycled items. There are also many web sites that offer recycled products for your home and office, including www.ecomall.com . Some stores make it easy to find recycled products by marking the shelves. One local store that does so is the University of Oregon Bookstore.

To truly recycle one must not only have their wastes collected, but must support the processing of the material by purchasing the recycled products. One ton of paper made completely from recycled scrap saves 7,000 gallons of water, 4,100 kilowatt hours of energy, three cubic yards of landfill space and 17 trees according to the Californians Against Waste Foundation. The saving of all these things can begin with you and your home office.


Buyers at the University of Oregon have always had the difficult task of finding ways to satisfy departmental needs for quality and affordability while keeping in line with environmental and sustainable programs. Cost, delivery lead times, specifications, research, and negotiation all take a lot of time, compounded with extra efforts to search out recycle content, warranties, energy efficiency, reparability and parts availability, and so on and so on and so on. Keeping all parties involved happy and satisfied is the challenge we face, and it is sometimes a daunting one.
The solutions can be found in the same concepts used in quality purchasing practices. Records, sources, contract language, vendor involvement, research, and educating your customer are all components used in trying to find that best value and still closing the loop to satisfy your recycling and environmental goals. Luckily, here at the University of Oregon we have access to endless resources and quality professionals that understand what we are trying to accomplish. The University has an Environmental Policy that defines our goals and gives everyone a clear picture of where we want to be. We have an award winning UO Zero Waste Program that is a leader in educating our community about recycling and life practices. Using these resources, buyers have a clearer direction and a resource to help them find products that are sustainable.
Our buying direction at Facilities Services has centered on finding vendors that can supply us with materials that have less packaging, recyclable packaging, recycled content using post consumer waste and post industrial waste, high energy efficiency, and strong warranties with readily available repair parts sourcing. We have inserted language in our contracts identifying these factors, and have worked with vendors to insure that they not only are supplying us with products that are in line with our goals, but that they are practicing sound sustainable practices, such as recycling and quality controls. Our vendors have been receptive to these requests, with some even unpacking the goods and taking the packing to the local recycling drop off point for us at no charge. We are also finding new markets to supply us with materials such as recycled carpet. Using linoleum instead of vinyl flooring, recycled building materials, low VOC paints, cleaning products that are friendly to the user and the environment, programs for rebuilding equipment instead of purchasing new, reusing old furniture and office products, and source reduction in all areas to decrease waste and save labor costs.
The secret to our success is our continuing efforts to develop and solidify partnerships with local and regional vendors, customers, and our maintenance staff, keeping our goals clear and attainable, and working with contractors and suppliers to find local solutions for our needs. This takes education, cooperation, and understanding of the hurdles each of us must cross in working in a partnership while satisfying our fiscal responsibilities. Using the recent Executive Order from Governor Kitzhaber on Sustainability as our lead, we will strive to continue our efforts to close the loop and sustain our world.
William Kasper
Purchasing Manager Facilities Services University of Oregon
1295 Franklin Blvd. Eugene, Oregon 97403-1276

Resource Revival - http://www.resourcerevival.com/

Bicycle parts that are beyond repair find new life as artistic and functional pieces.



As a customer, there are many opportunities to direct the purchase through choices. Through environmentally preferable purchasing, many positive outcomes are possible. Here are some things that Purchasing Managers can do:
*add a clause regarding waste generation, in ALL contracts for vendors products and services...request that packaging be minimal and what's left is recyclable, give preference to vendors who take back recyclable packaging waste and also choose products that can last and have replaceable parts
*choose nontoxic products, for a safer work place
*consider life cost accounting in all purchases
*ask questions such as: Is this product made for longevity? Can separate parts be replaced or when something breaks, does it need to be discarded? How much waste is generated in the acquisition of the products or services? Can the product or service, be provided with minimum or no waste generated in the process? Is the packaging recyclable with the University? Will the vendor take the packaging back for recycling? Is the item recyclable and repairable once it has completed it's use?
*spend a little more money at the onset in order to choose quality, longevity and recyclability, which saves us all in the long run!
*choose products that reduce impact on the University and global resources: many choices are available for energy and water conservation. Items such as: energy saver copy machines, computers, printers, lights, washing machines etc...are available sometimes less expensive then items without energy/resource conservation features. As the amount of new products and technology become part of our daily lives, the impact on our energy and water costs are astronomical. Consider purchasing items that reduce the impact on our precious resources and make conservation the rule and not the exception.
*Buy products made from recycled materials so we can continue to recycle the products we buy! There are numerous products on the market now that not only meet the performance standards of virgin products, but are cost competitive. Some items and services are beginning to incorporate waste into the contract.
*Refresh yourself with the UO Campus Environmental Policy Purchasing section:
  -II. Environmentally Responsible Purchasing Policies. The University recognizes that one of the primary methods of exercising its commitment to environmental responsibility is through its purchasing choices. The University will strive to obtain maximum value for its expenditures and will work towards obtaining the "best value" balancing short and long term costs, maintenance, life cycle, and environmental costs in purchasing goods and services.
   A. The University acknowledges that environmentally responsible purchasing choices will help create and sustain markets for environmentally responsible and recycled content products.
   B. The University commits to the goal of making environmentally and fiscally responsible purchasing choices that consider life cycle costs, long term implications, and relative environmental harm of products.
   C. Purchasing policies will encourage obtaining products that minimize waste products, have high recycled content, use environmental production methods, demonstrate maximum durability or biodegradability, reparability, energy efficiency, non toxicity, and recyclability.

REMEMBER ASK QUESTIONS: -Let vendors know of your interest in these items and practices. More and more companies are incorporating life cost accounting into their products. This includes: producer responsibility for waste; building products that are fixable, incorporating recycled materials into products and incorporating/buying products that promote resource conservation.

Cooperative purchasing

"The Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative (RPPC) is a collaborative non-profit effort which is aimed at increasing amount of recycled paper used by businesses and public entities. The RPPC is accomplishing this goal by providing recycled paper at prices which oftentimes meet or beat the price of non-recycled or virgin fiber paper. Membership in the purchasing cooperative is FREE and the paper available is tested and performance recommended by the U.S. Government Printing Office. Every 40 cases (one ton) purchased saves the equivalent of eight full grown trees. So tell your friends and neighbors about this opportunity to buy recycled and make a difference!
For more information about the Co-op visit http://www.recycledproducts.org or call (800) 694-8355.
The RPPC is coordinated nationally by Solana Recyclers, a non-profit organization. The RPPC is sponsored by the U.S. EPA Region 9, Union Bank of California, the San Diego Foundation, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection."

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