Penn’s Sustainable Purchasing Initiative has added two new programs—Green Alternatives and Reusable Delivery Totes—to help the University reach its Climate Action Plan goals of carbon reduction and waste minimization.
Taking part in Green Alternatives is easy. When staff and faculty in need of office supplies search the University’s preferred purchasing website for the items they wish to order, a green banner will appear when an environmentally preferred alternative is available. A side-by-side comparison shows the requested item and its greener option, giving customers the ability to make greener choices.
“Purchasing Services has made it simple for members of the Penn Community to take advantage of the comprehensive assortment of green suggestions and environmentally preferable office products that our vendor Telrose/Office Depot offers,” says Marie Witt, vice president of the Business Services Division. “Now it’s an easy choice to select sustainable alternatives when possible and, in turn, support the University’s Climate Action Plan.”
In the second new program, Telrose will use sturdy reusable totes to deliver office supply orders to University offices, if the items weigh less than 20 pounds and are not self-contained. The requested products will be put in paper bags rather than corrugated cardboard cartons and transported in the totes that are then returned to Telrose for reuse.
“Using these reusable delivery totes will enable the University, Telrose and Office Depot to reduce or eliminate tons of wood, carbon dioxide emissions and thousands of pounds of solid waste per year,” Witt explains.
These two programs are being added to Penn Purchasing’s list of green suggestions that encourage buyers to purchase products with minimal environmental impact through increasing awareness. Among those ideas is to buy locally to lessen transportation costs, and to consolidate orders to reduce the number of campus deliveries and packaging waste (offices can also earn a 3 percent discount for orders over $200).
Other green suggestions include shopping on-line and buying only from suppliers that promote environmental stewardship in their online product catalogues; choosing items made with recycled materials and from renewable resources and opting for non-hazardous alternatives that won’t require a haz-mat clean-up team in case of an accident. Lastly, when making big equipment purchases, look for the most energy efficient model, certified Energy Star by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.