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Stanford purchases and uses environmentally preferable products as much as possible, and is developing a university-wide purchasing program that supports suppliers of environmentally preferable products and services.

Consistent with Stanford’s sustainability goals, the Procurement Department and the associated Sustainability Working Team developed Sustainable Purchasing Guidelines. Key points are also summarized on Stanford's purchasing website. The purpose of these guidelines is to support and facilitate the purchase of products, services and materials that minimize the harmful effects to the environment from their production, transportation, use and disposition.

Recycled paper is less expensive than virgin paper under the campus-wide office supply contract.

To make purchasing choices easier, the Procurement Department is determining environmental standards for widely used products and supplies. Factors that determine whether a product is environmentally preferable include:

  • Use of recycled or recyclable materials
  • Minimal packaging
  • Environmental and financial costs over the product’s life
  • Toxicity of materials or application
  • Ability to reduce energy or water consumption
  • Durability and product life
  • Maintenance needs
  • Environmental impact of product disposal

Purchasing Initiatives

We’ve made good progress in lessening our environmental impact with the products and services we purchase and use in several areas:

Paper & Office Supplies

  • In 2006, 17 percent of general office products purchased through the university’s primary supplier had recycled content.
  • The campus-wide Corporate Express office supply contract sets a negotiated price for recycled paper that makes it less expensive than virgin paper.
  • Almost all campus facilities use toilet paper and paper towels made from recycled content.
  • Under the HP Printer and Recycle Cartridge Program, used inkjet cartridges returned for recycling earn points toward new printers that are more energy-efficient and use less ink than older models. This program provided many free printers for the new Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment + Energy Building.
  • Through the Corporate Express recycled toner program, offices campus-wide recycle spent cartridges.

Operations & Services

  • The Green Cleaning Program replaced harmful chemicals with Green Seal–certified products. Stanford staff use microfiber cloths and vacuums with HEPA filters, reducing paper waste and improving air quality.
  • We are consolidating FedEx pickups and deliveries to decrease the number of trucks on campus.

Food & Dining

  • Stanford Dining purchases as much food as possible from farmers within a 250-mile radius, and its partnership with ALBA Organics helps support about 30 local farms growing organic produce.
  • Compostable break room supplies (plates, utensils, etc.) are available for ordering in the Campus Wide Agreement catalog.

Equipment & Appliances

  • Stanford’s Energy Retrofit Program promoted the purchase of ENERGY STAR office equipment and appliances by offering a rebate of $500 for new copiers and $200 for a new refrigerator. New rebate programs are in development for 2011.
  • The university purchased new, energy-efficient lab freezers for the medical school to replace older, less efficient models.
  • Stanford encourages purchasing energy-efficient desktop computers, servers, copiers and other office machines when older machines need to be replaced. We are laying the groundwork for major initiatives to consolidate purchases and suppliers.


  • The Procurement Department hosts yearly Green Product Shows, focusing on recycled and green office products.
  • To encourage using recycled paper, we created a comparison of recycled and virgin paper that’s posted online and worked with Students for a Sustainable Stanford to educate campus departments about paper choices.
  • We partner with Stanford Recycling to conduct FYI Forums about purchasing and recycling.