University of Florida Sustainable Purchasing Policy

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Type: Policy

Status: In Effect

Source File:


16. Sustainable Purchasing

A. Purpose

1. The purpose of this policy is to support campus sustainability at the University of Florida and to provide guidelines, information, and resources in procuring products that will minimize negative impacts on society and the environment to the greatest extent practicable.

B. Responsibilities of Departments

1. Develop and maintain information about environmentally and socially preferable products. Departments should use the list composed in this document as a guideline and may add or modify the list as needed.

2. Inform employees of their responsibilities under this policy; provide them with information about sustainable procurement opportunities. Check the Purchasing web page for frequent updates on vendor commitments to sustainability, including new annual contracts and participation in vendor shows.

3. Submit new ideas, problems or concerns to Purchasing (352) 392-1331 or e-mail [email protected].

C. Best Practices and Procurement Strategies

1. Reduce waste at the point of purchase.
Faculty, staff and students can help achieve the university's waste reduction goals by practicing the three R's: reducing, reusing, and recycling. Priority should be given to reducing waste upstream by purchasing products made from recycled material that can be reused or recycled.

  • Letterhead stationery, envelopes, and business cards made from recycled paper
  • Office supplies
  • Recycled toner cartridges

To reduce disposal costs and waste, choose items that can be remanufactured, recycled, or composted. Many products made from recycled materials are available and are being included in the University of Florida contracts. Current contracts include:

Contract information is available from the Purchasing website under contracts and UF Pricing.

2. Purchase durable and reusable goods.
Using life-cycle cost analysis, rather than automatically choosing goods with the lowest purchase price, can help departments identify the best long-term value. Factor in a product's estimated life span as well as its energy, maintenance, consumable supplies and disposal costs.

  • Consider durability and reparability of products prior to purchase.
  • Invest in goods with extended warranties. Conduct routine maintenance on products/equipment.
  • Save money and minimize waste by eliminating single-use items, such as non rechargeable batteries, in favor of rechargeable batteries. Use rechargeable cartridges.

3. Lease and rent when appropriate.
Consider an operating lease or rental rather than a purchase or capital lease. Lease and rental contracts give vendors the responsibility for the upkeep of goods such as computers and copiers, and for managing them at the end of their useful life. Businesses that lease equipment tend to manufacture more durable items, salvage reusable parts, refurbish, recycle, or donate used equipment that can no longer be leased. Renting is a cost-effective option for short-term equipment needs.

4. Specify product and packaging take-back.

  • Increasingly, product vendors are offering to take back the products they sell when they become obsolete. By utilizing vendors who offer an Extended Product Responsibility (EPR) program, especially take-back, recycle, and disposal programs, departments are ensured equipment and products are disposed of properly whether recycled, donated, refurbished or disposed of without the added cost.
  • Other vendors will take back used items -- such as carpeting and toner cartridges -- when purchasers buy new products. For example, several carpet manufacturers have invested in sophisticated recycling facilities that turn old carpet into new carpet or other goods and toner cartridges are disposed of properly or sent to be recharged and sold at a lower cost.
  • Departments should require vendors to assume responsibility for some of their shipping materials, such as wooden pallets and excess packaging materials. When ordering large furniture or computer shipments request products ship blanket-wrapped or using reduced packing material.

5. Buy goods in bulk or concentrated form.
This practice can significantly reduce the packaging associated with lower product quantities and save costs. Carefully estimate demand when purchasing in bulk; purchasing more than is needed can create excess that becomes waste.

6. Manage surplus effectively.
The University of Florida can reduce waste by eliminating excess purchases. Reviewing past needs can minimize the procurement of unneeded items. Clean out your office supply cabinet and post re-usable items for UF Departments on or donate to local non-profit organizations such as Alachua County's Tools for Schools. Departments should utilize Asset Management Services for disposing of unwanted, out-dated property. Asset Management will effectively redistribute, recycle, or dispose of surplus property by bidding it out over the Internet through surplus on-line bids, police auctions, property warehouse, or federal warehouse. For more information see Asset Managements Services Web Site:

7. Procure commodities that are certified to meet sustainability standards.

Paper and Forest Products:

Electronics and Appliances:


Renewable Energy:

Building Practices and Indoor Air Quality:

8. Procure remanufactured goods and use refurbishing services.
It is generally much less expensive to buy remanufactured goods such as remanufactured toner cartridges, or to use refurbishing services for computer upgrades, carpet repair, and furniture reupholster, than to buy new items. "Recharged" toner cartridges typically save departments 30 to 50 percent per sheet of paper. Remanufactured items should require no sacrifice in performance. Check with Purchasing for current contracts in place for remanufactured products.

9. Purchase goods containing fewer toxic constituents.
By procuring goods with fewer or no toxic chemicals, departments can reduce their hazardous waste disposal, future liability concerns, and the risk of occupational exposure and spills. Low-toxicity products such as mercury-free medical supplies, printing ink low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and chrome and chlorine free cleaning supplies are increasingly available and cost-competitive. See the Cross-sector certifications to help selecting products (example: Green Seal certified for cleaning products)

10. Reduce paper use.

  • Set all printers, copiers, and fax machines to the default duplex mode if the function is available.
  • Purchase office equipment that has duplex capability.
  • Utilize technology to send and store information electronically.
  • Utilize internet fax when available.
  • E-mail document files instead of faxing hardcopies.
  • Instead of having forms preprinted and stored, fill out forms online and print as needed when available and feasible.
  • Store documents electronically instead of storing hard copies.

D. Current Guidelines in Place

1. All University of Florida personnel will purchase recycled and environmentally preferable products whenever practicable.

2. University of Florida Departments will purchase hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles.

3. The University of Florida will have a recycle container available within a reasonable distance of soda machines and in all dining establishments where canned or bottled drinks are served: Contact Physical Plant's Solid Waste Coordinator at 392-7396 or 392-1148 x 301.

4. University of Florida should promote the use of recycled and other environmentally preferable products by publicizing its sustainable procurement program. Materials produced for advertising, conferences, trade fairs, press releases, and other communications with clients and citizens can make reference to the University of Florida's commitment and leadership in the use of recycled and environmentally/socially preferable products.

5. The University Purchasing and Disbursements Department will make every effort to secure contracts with vendors that are socially and environmentally conscientious, and certified green whenever practicable.

E. Purchasing and UF's Zero Waste by 2015 Goal

1. Purchasing recyclable or products made out of recycled material is only part of the life cycle, you must recycle when ever possible. If you are not sure about the different recycling programs on campus, visit the Physical Plant Division, Grounds Department website or call (352) 392-7396.

F. Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Resources

1. Resources:

2. Examples of environmentally preferred products:

  • Recycled paper and paper products
  • Remanufactured laser printer toner cartridges
  • Energy Star Rated computers and appliances
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Re-refined lubrication, hydraulic oils, and antifreeze
  • Recycled plastic outdoor-wood substitutes including plastic lumber, benches, fencing, signs and posts
  • Recycled content construction, building and maintenance products, including plastic lumber, carpet, tiles and insulation
  • Re-crushed cement concrete aggregate and asphalt
  • Cement and asphalt concrete containing glass cullet, recycled fiber, plastic, tire rubber, or fly ash
  • Compost, mulch, and other organics including recycled biosolid products
  • Re-manufactured and/or low or VOC-free paint
  • Cleaning products with lowered toxicity
  • Energy saving products
  • Waste-reducing products
  • Water-saving products

G. Socially Responsible/Ethical Purchasing Standards

1. In demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and seeking to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for the people who make products for the University of Florida, purchasers should strive to ensure that the products they purchase meet International Labor Organization (ILO) manufacturing standards and Fair Trade Labeling standards.

Learn more about the importance of ethical purchasing:

H. Glossary

1. Environmentally Preferable Products are products that have a lesser impact on human health and the environment when compared with competing products. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, or disposal of the product.

2. Green Purchasing means purchasers take into consideration the environmental impact of products when making purchasing decisions, giving preference to more environmentally friendly products when quality and price are equal or superior.

3. Recycled Products are 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.

4. Sustainability means meeting today's needs without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their needs.

5. Waste Prevention means any action undertaken by an individual or organization to eliminate or reduce the amount or toxicity of materials before they enter the municipal solid waste stream. This action is intended to conserve resources, promote efficiency, and reduce pollution.

6. Reuse means repairing what is broken or giving it to someone who can repair it or use it in its current state.

7. Reduce means using less of products and utilizing other means of doing business when available to reduce the amount and toxicity of trash discarded.

8. Recycle means to reprocess and reuse used material.

9. Life Cycle Evaluation is an evaluation of the major environmental impacts in each life-cycle stage of a product category including resource extraction, production, distribution, use, and eventual disposal or recycling. The evaluation considers energy, resource use, and emissions to air, water, and land, as well as other environmental and health impacts. The purpose of this evaluation is to identify significant life-cycle stages to be addressed.

10. Life Cycle Cost Analysis is an economic evaluation technique that determines the total cost of owning and operating a building or equipment.

11. Rechargeable means to replenish the amount of electric power in something, especially a battery.

12. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is vendors taking on the responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products through the entire product's life cycle -- especially the take-back, recycle, and disposal programs.

13. Leasing is a legal rental contract allowing somebody exclusive possession of another's property for a specific time in return for a payment.

14. Certification an official document or seal providing evidence and details of something that is authentic and verified by a third party.

I. Exemptions

1. Nothing in this directive should be construed as requiring the purchase of products that do not perform adequately or are not available at a reasonable price.