Stanford University, CA Sustainable Purchasing Policy

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Stanford University, CA, US

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Type: Policy

Status: In effect

Source File:


POLICY – Sustainable Purchasing

Consistent with Stanford’s sustainability goals the purpose of this policy is to support and facilitate the purchase of products and materiel that minimize the harmful effects to the environment from their production, transportation, use and disposition. It is Stanford’s preference to purchase and use environmentally preferable products whenever they perform satisfactorily and can be acquired at similar total value (cost/quality). A related purpose is to develop and implement common purchasing programs to be used by all Stanford personnel that support suppliers of environmentally preferable products, services and practices.


A. All Stanford University personnel will be encouraged to purchase environmentally preferable products whenever practicable.

B. Stanford University will promote the use of environmentally preferable products, practices and suppliers by developing and implementing University wide preferred supplier contracts and product standards.

C. The University Procurement Department will make every effort to secure contracts with suppliers that are environmental leaders in their respective markets whenever practicable.

D. Procure environmentally preferable products and services using criteria that have been established by governmental or other widely recognized authorities (e.g. Energy Star, EPA Eco Purchasing Guidelines).

Examples of preferable practices or products:

  • Development and implementation of University wide, common purchasing programs and product specifications that support sustainable goals
  • Compact fluorescent lamps (Energy Star Seal on package)
  • Made of recycled materials, maximizing post-consumer content
  • Durable, compostable and reusable products as opposed to single use, customized or disposable items
  • Non-toxic or minimally toxic, preferably biodegradable
  • Highly energy efficient in production and use
  • Manufactured in an environmentally sound, sustainable manner by companies with good environmental track records
  • Cause minimal or no environmental damage during normal use or maintenance.
  • Shipped with minimal packaging (consistent with care of the product), preferably made of recycled and/or recyclable materials
  • Recycled paper and paper products
  • Re-refined lubrication and hydraulic oils
  • Computers and electric appliances (Energy Star Rated)
  • Re-crushed cement concrete aggregate and asphalt
  • Cement and asphalt concrete containing glass cullet, recycled fiber, plastic, or tire rubber
  • Remanufactured tires and products made from recycled tire rubber
  • Compost
  • Green Seal cleaning products
  • Energy saving products
  • Waste-reduced products
  • Water-saving products
  • Office Supplies (marked with environmental sign)
  • Replacing disposables with reusable’s or recyclables
  • Taking into account life cycle costs and benefits
  • Evaluating, as appropriate, the environmental performance of vendors in providing products and services
  • Minimizing campus deliveries and transportation distances

Responsibilities of Procurement Department
Stanford is committed to actions designed to conserve and protect the environment, and will continue to implement those actions whenever possible and economically feasible. It is the responsibility of the Purchasing and Contracts Department, in conjunction with all University departments, to promote the development and use of environmentally friendly products and services through the following activities:

  • Reviewing contracts, bids and specifications for goods and services to ensure that, whenever possible and economical, they are amended to provide for the expanded use of products and services that contain the maximum level of post-consumer reusable or recyclable waste / or recyclable content, without significantly affecting the intended use of the product or service.
  • Consulting with all user departments to identify new environmentally friendly products and services as well as improvements/changes in industry standards that may impact the environment.
  • Requiring the use of recycled materials and recycled products by incorporating them in bid specifications where practicable.
  • Purchasing from suppliers that provide environmentally friendly products and services or suppliers that are environmentally sensitive in their daily operations.
  • Seeking new suppliers and encouraging existing suppliers to review the manner in which their goods are packaged. Working with suppliers in the areas of reduction and reuse of packaging materials.
  • Using cost/benefit analysis to arrive at the correct sourcing decision; one that remains economically practical, reflects effective purchasing practices and satisfies the requirements of the user department.
  • Making suppliers aware of the Stanford’s Sustainable Procurement Policy.
  • Developing tools to track goals, assist in identifying and financially justifying green products and services, make it easier to measure achievement of goals, and integrate green purchasing into every day decisions.
  • Utilizing the Sustainable Procurement checklist for use in University purchasing.
  • Participating in training for implementing and improving the procurement of environmentally friendly products.

Responsibilities of Departments

A. Departments should use the list in this policy as a guideline for environmentally preferable products, specific to their department/mission or they should use Campus Wide Agreements (CWA’s) that cover the intended purchase. Factors that should be considered when determining the environmentally preferable good or service include, but are not limited to:

  • Maximization of recycled products used in product or service life cycle
  • Environmental cost of entire product or service life cycle
  • Reuse of existing products or materials in product or service life cycle
  • Recyclability of product
  • Minimization of packaging
  • Reduction of energy/water consumption
  • Toxicity reduction or elimination
  • Elimination of uncertified hardwoods in product or service life cycle
  • Durability and maintenance requirements
  • Ultimate disposal of the product

B. Inform employees of their responsibilities under this policy; provide them with information about recycled products and environmental procurement opportunities. C. Submit new ideas or suggestions to Procurement Services.

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Resources

A. EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (
B. EPA’s EPP Web Site (
C. EPPNet (
D. Green Seal (
E. EnergyStar (
F. Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (

Stanford University Sustainable Procurement Checklist
When purchasing, ask a supplier these questions. But first, determine if the product or service is truly necessary. Purchasing will need to be balanced with issues of product performance, cost, and availability.

  • Waste reduction: Is the product durable? Can it be easily and economically serviced and maintained? Is the product designed to reduce consumption and minimize waste? Is the product reusable? Is the product technically and economically recyclable in the immediate area? Do facilities and internal collection systems exist to recycle the product? Can the product be returned to the supplier at the end of its useful life? Is the product compostable and are systems in place to compost the product on or off-site? Will the product biodegrade over time into harmless elements?
  • Packaging: Is the product necessary? Can it be eliminated? Is minimal packaging used? Is the product packaged in bulk? Is the packaging reusable or recyclable? Are recycled materials used to produce the packaging and at what percent post-consumer waste? Can the packaging be returned to the supplier? Is the packaging compostable?
  • Material source: Are recycled materials used in the product? If so, what percentage? What percentage of post-consumer materials is used? If wood is used in the product, what is its source and how is it harvested? Is the product manufactured from tropical rainforest wood?
  • Energy efficiency: Is the product energy efficient compared to competitive products? Can the product be recharged? Can the product run on renewable fuels? Does the product require less energy to manufacture than competing products?
  • Supplier environmental record: Is the company producing the product in compliance with all environmental laws and regulations? What is the company’s record in handling environmental and safety issues? Can the company verify all environmental claims? Does the manufacturer/supplier have a company environmental policy statement? What programs are in place/planned for promoting resource efficiency? Are printed materials available documenting these programs? Has the company conducted an environmental or waste audit? Is the product supplier equipped to bid and bill electronically? Has an environmental life-cycle analysis of the product (and its packaging) been conducted by a certified testing organization, such as Green Seal?
  • Minimize Transportation: Can the required products be obtained from local sources or can they be supplied by existing suppliers who already have delivery routes on campus.


A. “Environmentally Preferable Products” means products and services that have a lesser negative or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with similar products that serve the same purpose. This comparison may consider raw material content, acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, or disposal of the product.

B. “Life Cycle Cost” means the amortized annual cost of a product, including capital costs, installation costs, operating costs, maintenance costs, and disposal costs discounted over the useful life of the product.

C. “Recycled Material” means material and byproducts that have been recovered or diverted from solid waste, and have been utilized in place of raw or virgin material in the manufacturing a product. It is derived from post-consumer recycled material, manufacturing waste, industrial scrap, agricultural waste, and other waste material, but does not include material or byproducts generated from, and commonly reused within, an original manufacturing process.

D. “Recycled Product” means products manufactured with waste material that has been recovered or diverted from solid waste. Recycled material may be derived from post-consumer waste (material that has served its intended end-use and been discarded by a final consumer), industrial scrap, manufacturing waste, or other waste that would otherwise have been wasted.

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