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Office of Procurement

Environmentally Preferable Products

*The following is a short list of environmentally preferable products (EPP) including:

  1. Remanufactured Toner Cartridges
  2. Computers
  3. Paper
  4. Office Imaging Equipment
  5. Cleaners
  6. Paint

  1. Remanufactured Toner Cartridges

    Remanufactured cartridges and ink jets have been emptied, cleaned, remanufactured and refilled.  They cost 30% to 60% less than new cartridges and save energy, hazardous substances and natural resources.

    Recommended Third Party Certification Standards
    There are two main standards for remans:

    • Standardized Test Methods Committee (STMC) certification is for reman vendors. It is managed by the International Imaging Technologies Council (IITC) and requires ASTM testing methods.
    • EcoLogoCM CCD-039 standard is for reman cartridges. It has requirements for the remanufacturing process, the quality of the reman cartridge, and end-of-life management.

    Remans are less expensive than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) cartridges and can perform just as well. They are widely available for monochrome laser machines and can be found for other cartridge types as well.  (King County saved $275,000 in 2007 by buying remans.)

    The remanufactured cartridges industry started with the "drill and fill" method of reprocessing spent toner cartridges. The method was inexpensive and some manufacturers and suppliers offered substandard products with little or no production controls in place.  The current remanufacturing process requires cartridges to be disassembled, inspected, and cleaned. Worn components are replaced with new parts and a fresh supply of toner is added before the cartridge is resealed and resold. Remans from certified suppliers are as reliable and offer the same quality standards as OEM cartridges (StopWaste, undated). They do not damage equipment and cannot be the basis for voiding manufacturer equipment warranties.
    Bid and Contract Specifications

    • State how long they have been in business
    • Provide client references
    • Describe their remanufacturing process
    • Prove that their cartridges have been tested to meet or exceed industry standards
    • Provide page coverage and cost per copy estimates
    • Specify product warranty details (e.g., duration, whether reman-related equipment damage is covered)
    • Guarantee equipment repairs if a problem is caused by their product
    • Guarantee that if the reman defect rate exceeds a certain threshold within a specified period (e.g., a 3% failure rate within six months) the cartridges can be returned for a full refund
    • Guarantee they will take used cartridges back for further remanufacturing or recycling and what the terms are on the return
    • Do not legally restrict the remanufacturing and/or recycling of cartridges by parties other than the OEM.

    Model Specification
    Texas Department of Transportation

  2. Computers

    Institutional buyers are increasingly concerned about the social and environmental effects of electronics throughout their lifecycle. These include energy consumption, use and disposal of hazardous substances, waste impacts and worker and community exposures.

    Recommended Third Party Certification Standards
    Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) is a voluntary standard for environmentally preferable computers (EPA, 2006c).  EPA funded the development of the EPEAT standard which is independently managed and monitored by the Green Electronics Council.  EPEAT addresses eight areas of environmental criteria (EPEAT, 2006a):

    • Reduction/Elimination of Environmentally Sensitive Materials
    • Material Selection
    • Design for End of Life
    • Product longevity/life cycle extension
    • Energy Conservation
    • End of Life Management
    • Corporate Performance
    • Packaging

    The most current Energy Star standard for energy efficient computers, administered by the EPA and Department of Energy (DOE), is a required criterion in the EPEAT computer standard.

    Energy Star equipment is up to 60% more efficient than models without energy management controls, thereby decreasing energy costs and prolonging equipment life. The energy savings related to Energy Star significantly reduce the lifetime energy costs of the product compared to conventional computers. 

    According to sources at several of the leading computer manufacturers, EPEAT-rated products will not cost any more than other similar products (NRC, 2006). As of December 2007, EPEAT registered computers carry no price premium compared to conventional models.

    EPEAT registration addresses environmental performance attributes not performance criteria such as memory size or processor speed. An EPEAT registered computer is no more or less likely to have adequate storage or processing speed for specific usage than a non-EPEAT registered computer.

    Model Specification
    Province of Nova Scotia, Standing Offer for Desktops, 2007
    The Province of Nova Scotia’s February 2007 Desktop computers tender requires EPEAT Silver as a baseline, in addition to requiring other environmental performance attributes. NOTE: This tender offer uses the term “certification” to refer to EPEAT – since EPEAT is a product declaration and verification system, not a certification program, the correct terms are “EPEAT- registered” and “EPEAT registration”.

    EPEAT - Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator, Version 2.0
    The Electronics Benefits Calculator estimates the environmental and economic benefits of purchasing EPEAT-registered products.

    ENERGY STAR - Life Cycle Cost Estimate for ENERGY STAR Qualified Desktop Computer
    This calculator was developed by the EPA and DOE and is provided for estimating the cost savings of ENERGY STAR qualified computers compared with non-ENERGY STAR computers.

  3. Paper

    Key impacts during the copy paper lifecycle include: hazardous releases of chlorinated compounds in the pulping process, high volumes of water use and contamination, pungent and toxic air pollutants, high volumes of solid waste, high energy demands and greenhouse gas emissions, and damage to arboreal and aquatic habitats.

    Recommended Third Party Certification Standards

    • The Chlorine-free Products Association (CFPA), a not-for-profit trade association, developed CFPA #102, a chain-of-custody certification standard to address bleaching processes, recycled content, and forest management. Products that meet CFPA #102 may be labeled as TCF (Totally Chlorine Free) or PCF (Processed Chlorine Free).  TCF is reserved for virgin papers and the PCF is reserved for recycled content paper.
    • EcoLogo certifies copy paper and the associated manufacturing processes under the multi-attribute standard CCD-077: Printing and Writing Paper. The standard spans the full lifecycle of the products to address sustainable forest management, air and water emissions, solid wastes, recycled content, and energy use.
    • The Forest Stewardship Council’s international Chain of Custody standard verifies the source of the fibers used to make paper, whether those fibers are recycled or sourced from FSC-certified forests. FSC Forest Management certification, for forests rather than forest products, addresses legal issues, indigenous rights, labor rights, multiple benefits, and environmental impacts surrounding forest management. For the Chain of Custody certification, wood products used to make paper are tracked and the resulting paper products may be labeled with a unique tracking number. 
    • Green Seal certifies the product content and manufacturing process of copy paper under its Printing and Writing Paper standard, GS-07 and Coated Printing Paper under GS-10. Both standards cover two main attributes: recycled-content and bleaching processes. Paper products that meet the certifications may be labeled with the Green Seal Certification Mark, which must be accompanied by accurate bleaching information and percentage of recycled-content.

    Recycled copy paper often costs more than virgin paper. According to a 2004 survey of state purchasing agencies conducted by the Center for a New American Dream, the average price for copy paper with 30% post-consumer waste (PCW) was 8% higher ($25/case) than virgin paper ($23/case), and the average price paid for 100% PCW paper ($32/case) was 36% higher. Ordering in bulk and choosing papers with lower weights and brightness levels are two ways to close the price gap.

    Recycled-content paper meets the same technical specifications as virgin papers and runs successfully on office electronics (Kinsella, 2000). Buyers Laboratory, Inc., an independent testing laboratory for copiers, printers, and fax machines, regularly runs 30% PCW paper in the machines it evaluates and reports “no noticeable difference in the runnability of recycled paper versus virgin paper” (Conservatree, 2003).  Brands such as Cascades and Hammermill even guarantee their recycled content products for use in standard office equipment.

    Bid and Contract Specifications
    Minimum specifications for copy paper should include:

    • Maximized PCW recycled content, with a minimum of 30% for all papers
    • Chlorine-free certification
    • Chain of custody certification for virgin content to ensure paper comes from well managed forests
    • Require vendors to also offer tree-free alternatives (such as kenaf or hemp)

    Stronger specifications include:

    • 100% certified PCW recycled content paper
    • Preference for PCW recycled-content and recyclable wrappers
    • Minimum 30% PCW for cartons and corrugated packaging materials
    • Verification of vendor’s use of green power

    Model Specifications
    Responsible Purchasing Network and Environmental Paper Network, Model Environmental Specifications, 2007
    Developed by the Environmental Paper Network in partnership with the Responsible Purchasing Network, this spec provides contract language for recycled content, responsibly-sourced fiber, cleaner production practices, recyclability, and promotion.

    The Paper Calculator, developed by Environmental Defense’s Paper Task Force, and customized for RPN users, quantifies the environmental impacts savings in wood, energy, emissions, water and solid waste from switching to higher recycled content.

  4. Office Imaging Equipment

    Office electronics have a range of social and environmental impacts, including: energy use, hazardous substances, waste, and air quality. By choosing more environmentally preferable equipment, institutions can decrease the energy use of imaging equipment by up to 60%, reduce pollution and risks to human health, minimize waste, and improve indoor air quality.

    Recommended Third Party Certification Standards

    • ENERGY STAR imaging equipment includes: copiers, printers, fax machines, scanners, and MFDs. To date, the standards have focused on low-power and standby power modes. 
    • EcoLogo label is available for: copiers, fax machines, printers, mailing machines, and multifunction devices. This comprehensive standard contains life-cycle criteria, from manufacture to use and disposal.  The new Office Equipment standard incorporates ENERGY STAR standards and covers restrictions on hazardous substances, design for extended life, reuse and recycling, and energy and paper savings.

    Environmentally preferable imaging equipment generally costs no more than models without environmental features. Duplex units are standard on many printers and copiers, and double-sided printing can reduce office paper needs by up to 40 percent.  Similarly, ENERGY STAR registered equipment is up to 60 percent more efficient than models without energy management controls, thereby decreasing energy costs and prolonging the life of equipment.

    Environmentally preferable imaging equipment performs just as well as other models, although there are a few differences.  Duplexing is a more complex method of printing and can take extra processing time and potentially increase the risk of paper jams. To reduce these issues, look for imaging equipment with efficient output speed and make sure equipment is adjusted correctly.

    Model Specification
    Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Photocopiers, Printers, Facsimile/Multifunctional Equipment Supplies and Services, 2003
    This detailed and comprehensive request for bids contains specifications for copiers, printers, faxes, and toner cartridges with preference for: remanufactured equipment and consumables; energy efficiency; reduced packaging; compatibility with recycled paper; end-of-life management; reduced toxics; emissions control; and environmental plans from bidders.

    These calculators were developed by the EPA and DOE and are provided for estimating the cost savings of ENERGY STAR qualified office machines compared with non-ENERGY STAR machines.
    Copiers: Life Cycle Cost Estimate for ENERGY STAR Copiers
    Printers: Life Cycle Cost Estimate for ENERGY STAR Printers
    Multifunction Devices: Life Cycle Cost Estimate for ENERGY STAR MFDs
    Scanners: Life Cycle Cost Estimate for ENERGY STAR Scanners

  5. Cleaners

    Health problems associated with cleaning chemicals include reproductive disorders, major organ damage, permanent eye damage, asthma and other respiratory ailments, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue (Culver, 2002; EPA, 2007). These chemicals can also find their way into lakes, streams, and other water bodies (some of which may serve as drinking water sources), presenting further health and other environmental concerns.

    Recommended Third Party Certification Standards

    • Green Seal is a nonprofit, independent standard-setting organization certifying a range of products and services, including general purpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners, glass cleaners, carpet cleaners and more.

    GC-11: Powdered Laundry Bleach (first edition: August 30, 1996)
    GS-08: Household Cleaners (second edition: July 2, 2007)
    GS-34: Degreasers (first edition: May 31, 1999)
    GS-40: Industrial & Institutional Floor Care Products (first edition: Nov. 12, 2004)
    GS-41: Industrial & Institutional Hand Cleaners (June 2006, co-published with EcoLogo)
    GS-42: Cleaning Services (first edition: Sept. 1, 2006)
    GS-37: Industrial & Institutional Cleaners (Fourth Edition, April, 2008)

    • EcoLogo is the standards-based labeling system in the Environmental Choice Program (ECP), Environment Canada’s ecolabeling program. The program certifies a range of products, including hand cleaners, window & glass cleaners, boat & bilge cleaners, vehicle cleaners, degreasers, cooking appliance cleaners, cleaning products with low potential for environmental illness and endocrine disruption, bathroom cleaners, dish cleaners, carpet cleaners, and disinfectants.

    CCD-104: Industrial Hand Cleaners (June 2006, co-published with Green Seal)
    CCD-146: (A) Window and Glass Cleaner; (B) Boat and Bilge Cleaners; (C) Vehicle Cleaner for Household and Institutional use; (E) Degreasers; (F) Industrial Cleaners; (G) Cooking appliance cleaners; (I) Cleaning Product with Low Potential for Environmental Illness and Endocrine Disruption; (J) Bathroom Cleaners; (K) Dish Cleaners
    CCD-148: Carpet and Upholstery (first edition: June 10, 2004)

    • In addition to these certification programs, the U.S. EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Formulator Initiative and NSF International provide programs designed to help manufacturers improve the environmental performance of their products or define protocols to help manufacturers evaluate and improve their products. DfE does not recommend or endorse products, but companies that reformulate their products based on its recommendations are eligible to use the DfE logo on their product.

    In general, green cleaning products do not cost any more than other cleaners. Switching to green cleaners lowers costs associated with potentially hazardous chemical cleaning products.

    The EcoLogo and Green Seal standards for cleaners include performance criteria based on ASTM standards. These standards help ensure that green products meet or exceed the same performance standards of more harmful products. In numerous tests conducted by a group of large volume purchasers, all of the green products bought by the group worked as well as or better than other cleaners (MA, 2003).

    Bid and Contract Specifications
    Requests for proposals should outline requirements for the following attributes:

    • Packaging and Recycled Content
    • Carcinogens and Reproductive Toxins
    • Combustibility
    • Labeling Requirements
    • Skin and Eye Irritation
    • Dilution Ratios and Dispensing Equipment
    • Fragrances
    • Eutrophication
    • Toxicity
    • Photochemical Smog
    • Aquatic Toxicity
    • Employee Training

    Model Specification
    Harvard University, Specifications for Green Cleaning Products, 2008
    Harvard’s specification pools from several governmental organizations that were the pioneers of the green cleaning movement such as Massachusetts, Seattle, Santa Monica, King County, WA, Minnesota and others.

    The Green Cleaning Pollution Prevention Calculator quantifies the projected environmental benefits of purchasing and using "green" janitorial services and products.

  6. Paint

    Paint has a wide range of social and environmental impacts, including energy use, air and water quality, hazardous substances, and waste. By choosing environmentally preferable paint, institutions can divert waste, and decrease worker and community exposure to VOCs, carcinogenic chemicals, and other toxic materials.

    Recommended Third Party Certification Standards

    • Green Seal

    GS-11: Paints (first edition May 20, 1993)
    GS-11: Paints (second edition May 12, 2008)
    GS-43: Recycled-content Latex Paint (first edition August 1, 2006)

    • EcoLogo (formerly Environmental Choice)

    CCD-047: Architectural Surface Coatings (last revised December 2005)
    CCD-048: Recycled Water-borne Surface Coatings (last revised March 2006)

    • Scientific Certifications Systems (SCS)

    SCS-EC10.2-2007: Indoor Advantage Gold (Last update, May 2007)


    GREENGUARD Paints and Coatings (2006)

    Cost and Quality
    Environmentally preferable architectural paints, virgin and recycled, are gaining market share and are increasingly available. In general, quality is comparable, supply is improving, and cost is competitive.  Soy, milk, and silicate dispersion interior and exterior paints are more expensive alternatives to conventional latex- and oil-based paints. While the equivalent performance of low and zero VOC architectural latex paint is widely recognized, recycled-content paint has not been similarly accepted. In fact, consumer concern about quality, color, and sheen of the recycled product have been major impediments to increasing its use (PSIGS, 2006b). New certifications should help to address these misconceptions.

    Bid and Contract Specifications
    In addition to requiring third party certifications that address hazardous chemical component limitations and recycled-content requirements, contract specifications should address the following considerations:

    • Few or no petrochemical components
    • Light colors and/or Low VOC colorants
    • Recycled product manufactured using local or regional leftover paint resources
    • Container design conducive to safe, long-term storage
    • Container design conducive to recycling of product
    • Containers are recyclable and made from recycled materials
    • Take-back services for leftovers and containers

    Model Specifications
    EPA, Federal Construction Guide for Specifiers, 2005
    Sample paint specification language for construction projects according to EPA goals.

    *Information for each product has been excerpted from the Responsible Purchasing Network’s (RPN) purchasing guides.  RPN is an international network of buyers dedicated to socially responsible and environmentally sustainable purchasing; the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection is a member of the RPN.