The purchase of products made from recycled materials closes the loop of recycling. When an organization purchases supplies made from recycled content, the purchases help to create a demand for materials collected in recycling programs. Business purchases of recycled products are extremely important to develop and maintain markets for the materials that are diverted from landfill disposal. In addition, procuring recycled materials reduces the demand for virgin resources and the additional energy required to produce products from virgin resources. This section focuses on procurement of paper goods and basic office supplies; procurement activities related directly to energy efficiency, information technology, and indoor air quality are listed in those sections.

The Alliance created a matrix to help you assess the cost effectiveness of each of the following strategies by comparing the level of operational investment to potential environmental impact. 

Periodic Action  Property Manager Involvement
Habitual Action  Lower-Impact
Policy-Driven  Higher-Impact


Buy Paper Products Made from Recycled Content and Responsibly Managed Forests

A growing number of products are made from recycled materials. For example, standard white copier paper can be purchased with varying amounts of recycled content at little-to-no additional

cost over non-recycled paper. The use of recycled paper not only reducts the rate at which our forests are cut down, but it also saves significant amounts of energy, water, and greenhouse gas because it’s much less energy- and water-intensive to produce paper from recycled pulp than virgin wood. Organizations can commit to only purchasing paper that contains a certain amount of recycled content. An even greener option is to look for paper that is both recycled and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified as coming from a responsibly managed forest. Visit the Environmental Paper Network’s website to calculate the environmental impacts of your office’s current paper usage and the energy savings, greenhouse gas reductions, and other benefits of switching to a higher recycled content paper.

Establish a Preferential Purchasing Policy

Organizations can follow the State of California’s lead and give procurement preference to products that have green attributes (e.g. non-toxic cleaning products, Energy Star appliances). Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website for environmentally preferable purchasing tools, such as a database of environmental information for products and services, and a calculator that allows an organization to compare the environmental impacts of different paper choices. 

Purchase Rechargable Batteries

Employees can be provided with rechargeable batters and chargers so that equipment that uses batteries can use energy-efficient (and toxicity-reducing) rechargeable batteries.

Reduce Packaging

Organizations can select products from suppliers and manufacturers that use minimal packaging. For example, electronics equipment such as computers and printers can be purchased from companies that agree to take back the packaging.

Purchase in Bulk

Purchasing products in bulk reduces the packaging needed to wrap individual items. Paper, for example, is usually sold in individually wrapped reams of 500 sheets. Paper can be purchased in bulk without wrappers.


California Sustainability Alliance’s Green Procurement Guide.