There are thousands of EPPs available for purchase on statewide contracts, from re-refined motor oil to green cleaning products to alternative fuel vehicles. Explore options in the following document to assist Commonwealth agencies and political subdivisions in identifying and purchasing products made with recycled content and having other environmentally preferable attributes. The products and services listed are those that are available on Commonwealth Statewide and limited use contracts. In addition, detailed information on the following categories may be found in this guide.
Guide EPP Program - Environmentally Preferable Products and Services on Statewide Contracts
Green Cleaning Products, Programs, Equipment and Supplies
Statewide Contract (SWC) FAC85 was issued to offer a broad selection of environmentally preferable cleaning products, intended to replace commonly used harsh chemical cleaners. The contract, which is a multi-state contract available to Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Rhode Island, includes environmentally preferable janitorial paper goods, entryway systems, equipment, trash liners, and specialty items and technologies.
Third-Party Certified: All of the green chemicals are required to be “Independently Third-Party Certified,” which means that the environmental claims, as well as the product’s performance, have been tested and certified by an established, legitimate, and nationally-recognized certification program. Contract users may be assured that the product will perform well.
Assistance: Vendors must be capable of assisting customers with the development and implementation of a green cleaning program based on the guidelines generated by cleaning industry and independent janitorial cleaning certification organizations. Vendors also must be prepared to provide guidance, training, and relevant materials that will enable customers to more easily make the transition to green cleaning products and practices and track their progress and success
Policies and Guidance
FAC85 Contract User Guide: This guide provides a general summary of the contract, outlines pricing and purchasing options, includes a vendor list, and reviews the benefits and cost savings associated with the contract.
FAC85 Green Cleaning Products Frequently Asked Questions: This guide provides basic facts about FAC85 and answers frequently asked questions about the benefits of buying from the SWC and using green cleaning products.
Approved Green Products List for FAC85: This is an Approved List of Green Cleaning Products that includes the products offered on SWC FAC85:Green Cleaning Products, Programs, Equipment and Supplies. The purpose of this list is to assist users in finding and comparing green cleaning products, supplies, and equipment. The link will take you to the Master MBPO for FAC85 in COMMBUYS where all contract documents are located, and choose the file titled “FAC85 Approved Products List.” NOTE: If there are any discrepancy in pricing between this list and the pricing indicated for a vendor on COMMBUYS.
Attachment A: Mandatory Specifications and Desirable Criteria for FAC85: The FAC85 Strategic Sourcing Services Team (SSST) developed mandatory specifications and desirable criteria for all products offered on FAC85. For a product to be
Case Studies and Fact Sheets
- Soldiers Home : This case study reviews The Chelsea Soldiers Home success in using green cleaners.
- Cleaning The Bathrooms: This fact sheet was created by the Toxics Reduction Task Force for the purpose of providing clear and simple guidance as well as additional resources on cleaning and disinfecting restroom facilities.
- Bradley Palmer State Park: This case study reviews the Bradley Palmer State Park success in using green cleaners.
- Cleaning for Healthy Schools: Infection Control Handbook (2010): This Handbook is designed to help develop and implement effective infection-control practices while minimizing the use of, and exposure to, toxic products. It is intended to be used by school personnel, including facility managers, head custodians, administrators, nurses, and purchasing agents, when customizing their school program. The handbook is a deliverable from a TURI Community Grant.
- Toxics Use Reduction Institute Green Cleaning Lab: The TURI Lab manages a diverse database of tested cleaning products and provides alternatives recommendations for safer cleaning.
- MA Department of Public Health: The Occupational Lung Disease Bulletin: Disinfecting Surfaces and Asthma reviews information about cleaning and disinfecting products, the differences between them, and the links to asthma.
- MA Asthma Action Partnership (MAAP): The Massachusetts Asthma Action Partnership (MAAP) is a program of Health Resources in Action (HRiA), whose mission is to reduce asthma health disparities and improve the quality of life for all people with asthma in the Commonwealth by coordinating statewide efforts.
- MA Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH): Through training, technical assistance and building community and labor alliances, MassCOSH mobilizes its members and develops leaders in the movement to end unsafe work conditions.
Hazardous and Medical Waste
Trucks and automobiles in the U.S. generate more than 600 million gallons of used crankcase oils and related lubricants, annually. In addition to motor oil and other fluids, vehicle maintenance activities also generate millions of used oil filters, oil- and solvent-saturated rags, and towels. In recent years, improper disposal of automotive oils and lubricants, filters and rags has caused significant environmental degradation. Deliberate spillage of oils on the ground and into surface waters, as well as disposal of oils and other automotive fluids to sewer systems have caused major environmental disruption. These automotive fluids are toxic to fish and other organisms and can cause costly disruption to wastewater treatment plants. Fluid-soaked rags and spent filters also can leach contaminants into the environment when improperly disposed.
Many automotive fluids can now easily be processed for reuse, conserving resources, saving energy, and reducing the potential for environmental degradation. Nevertheless, EPA reports that only a small fraction of the fluids generated actually are collected for processing and recycling. In the case of discharges to fresh water, the U.S. EPA reports that just one gallon of oil can contaminate one million gallons of receiving waters, making them undrinkable.
The availability of easily accessible collection services facilitates the efforts of government vehicle fleet managers, facility operators, and individuals to prevent the release of oils, lubricants, and related hazardous materials to the environment. Recycling oil filters or installing reusable filters rather than disposing of filters, can reduce the amount of discarded waste oil and the volume of solid waste generated. Reusing rags and laundering them also can reduce the generation of solid waste and the potential for petroleum-driven contaminants to leach into the environment.
The primary benefit of the Massachusetts hazardous material collection program is the provision for separation, collection, proper disposal and recycling of hazardous materials to keep them from being discharged to the environment.
Another benefit is the promotion of the recycling and reuse of these materials. The contract requires that the contractor provide for the ultimate disposition of wastes at approved Receiving Facilities through recycling, reclamation, treatment, fuel blending, incineration or land disposal in accordance with all applicable local, state and federal rules and regulations. The contractor is also encouraged to manage the waste materials according to the following waste management hierarchy: (1) Recycled; (2) Reclaimed; (3) Neutralized or treated; (4) Fuel blended; (5) Incinerated; and (6) Landfilled.
Additional Resources for Hazardous and Medical Waste
Integrated Pest Management
Pest management is a necessary procedure needed in order to protect crops and vegetation as well as the public health. It is estimated that since 1945 at least 500 million lives have been saved in the United States because of pest management. Some of the more popular diseases that can be contracted by insects and rodents include: malaria, bubonic plague, and typhus. In addition to saving lives, pest management helps protect crops and vegetation. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization about 55 percent of the world's potential human food supply is lost to pests every year.
Even though it is necessary to use pest management to control disease and crop and vegetation safety, the dangers of the conventional pesticides used by professionals and the general public has been of much concern since the 1950's. Not only are most of the conventional pesticides on the market toxic to people and their pets but they are also made from renewable resources that have a significant amount of bodied energy.
Because the many dangers and harmful effects on people's health and the environment associated with pest management and the pesticides that are used within the United States and around the world many governments and organizations are beginning to develop and use non-toxic pesticides, establish new laws and regulations, and implement integrated pest management strategies.
Integrated Pest Management or IPM is considered to be the pest control measure of choice for many homeowners, growers, and commercial applicators. IPM is described as being "an approach to pest management that blends all available management techniques-non chemical and chemical into one strategy." This approach usually consists of monitoring pest problems, the use of non chemical pest control, and resorting to conventional pesticides only when it is absolutely necessary and the pest damage exceeds an aesthetic or economic threshold.
In addition to IPM being the choice of many homeowners, growers, and commercial applicators; it is also the preferable choice for many school systems and school districts. It has been found that children have the tendency of being more sensitive to conventional pesticides than adults. Therefore, it is even more important for schools, especially those containing small children, to implement an IPM program. IPM programs in schools reduce sources of food, water, and shelter for pests, which in turn leads to a safer and healthier environment for the children.
Many city and state governments are also beginning to make IPM programs and strategies mandatory within their facilities and communities. In January of 2008 the state of Massachusetts worked on a new contract for pest control to be awarded within a couple months to eligible entities access to only qualified providers that utilize IPM. This is because the use of IPM is mandated by the Governor's Executive Order #403 in all state buildings and facilities.
IPM Laws and Regulations
The state of Massachusetts is one of many states that have strived to suppress conventional pesticides and the health and environmental dangers associated with them. As a result of this two of the most popular laws and regulations in regards to conventional pesticides and IPM are still in effect today: the Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act and the Children Protection Act/Executive Order of Pest Management No 2003.
Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act
Under the Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act Chapter 132B: Section 6 makes it illegal for anyone to distribute pesticide that is not registered, to alter or misbrand any pesticide, to distribute any pesticide that is open or unsealed, to distribute any pesticide container that is unsafe or damaged, to destroy or detach any pesticide label, and to purchase or use a pesticide that is not registered. (General Law of Massachusetts, ND, Ch 132B:6)
Children Protection Act 2000/Executive Order 2003
The Children Protection Act of 2000 and the Executive Order of 2003 are part of the Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act that makes it mandatory for parents, staff, and children of any school or daycare to receive notification whenever pesticide applications are being made on the property. (Mas.Gov, 2003, p. 1) This order was put into place because it was found that children are far more sensitive to pesticides and this is the state's way to ensure their health and safety.
Additional Resources for Integrated Pest Management
Motor Oil, Re-Refined
Massachusetts agencies have been purchasing re-refined motor oil from the state contract since the mid-1990s. Re-refined motor oil is used oil that has been refined to remove the physical and chemical contaminants acquired through use. By itself, or when blended with new lubricating oil or additives, re-refined oil meets applicable American Petroleum Institute (API) service classifications, and is equivalent to the performance standards of "virgin" oil.
Today, re-refined motor oil and other lubricants for use in automotive, heavy-duty diesel and other internal combustion engines, are subject to the same stringent refining, compounding and performance standards as virgin oil. The re-refining technologies now used by several major oil refineries require that used oil be vacuum distilled to remove contaminants such as dirt, water, fuel and used additives, and hydrotreated to remove the remaining chemicals and contaminants from the base oil to restore it to its original condition. Once that process is complete, the highest quality additives are blended into the base stock to fortify and bring the oil to the desired performance standards. These processes are similar to the processes applied to virgin crude oil.
Extensive laboratory testing and purchasing experiences of such volume users as the US Postal Services and the States of Maine, Vermont and New York, among others, and King County, Washington, show that the result is a high quality base stock that is virtually indistinguishable and equivalent in appearance and quality to the virgin counterparts. In addition, the API, which is the basis for most auto and equipment manufacturer warrantees, has certified that these lubricants pass the same cold-start, pumpability, rust-corrosion, engine wear and high temperature viscosity tests as virgin oils do, thus ensuring consistent performance standards for all engine oils. As a result, the major US automobile manufacturers as well as Mercedes Benz and others, now recognize that such re-refined lubricants meet both the industry standards and their individual specifications. In response, they have issued clearly written statements that these products will not void warrantees.
Massachusetts state agencies and departments are also purchasing non-petroleum, or vegetable (oil) based lubricants, also called bio-lubricants. Such bio-lubricants are emerging as a high-performance, environmentally friendly alternative to the more commonly purchased petroleum because they can perform as well or better than petroleum oils, are readily biodegradable, are low in toxicity, offer worker safety advantages and serve to reduce our dependence on foreign petroleum.
While the world relies on oil and other fuels for most of its energy and is likely to do so for years to come, emissions from their production and use have raised concerns. These emissions may be helping to warm our planet by enhancing the natural greenhouse effect of our atmosphere. The contribution of possible man-made warming is uncertain as are the extent and timing of potential future impacts. Nevertheless, the need to take action is clear.
Re-refining oil offers both economic and environmental advantages. Used oil can be re-refined and reused indefinitely, thus eliminating the need to purchase virgin oil. Because recycled oil used to manufacture re-refined oil is not discarded into the waste stream, the recycling and re-refining process serves to eliminate air pollution from oil incineration and potential water pollution caused by improper dumping. Moreover, purchasing re-refined oil reduces our dependence on foreign oil.
Refining used oil is an energy efficient and environmentally beneficial process. During the process, the contaminants within the used oil are removed. Lubricating additives that were depleted during use are added back into the oil.
Modern re-refining processes have evolved considerably from methods used even as recently as 20 years ago. Methods used back then could not always remove the impurities. This resulted in the misconception that all re-refined oils are inferior to virgin oils. The results of research studies conducted comparing re-refined and virgin oils have consistently indicated that re-refined oils performed as well or better than virgin oils. And the price for re-refined oil is very competitive with that for virgin oil.
Unlike some products, oil is not "used up," nor does it wear out. It does gather impurities during its use in an engine. By removing these impurities, re-refining helps extend the life of the original oil many times over. In fact, re-refining takes only one-third the energy used in obtaining the virgin oil from the crude stock. Moreover, it takes just one gallon of used oil, compared with 42 gallons of crude oil, to produce the same 2.5 quarts of lubricating oil. As such, it is an excellent way to conserve virgin, nonrenewable petroleum resources without compromising quality or increasing spending. It also helps to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. As a renewable resource, re-refined oil represents a more environmentally responsible choice.
Compared to crude oil refining to produce virgin lubricating oil, producing lubricating oil from used motor oil requires less energy, and conserves valuable crude oil, a non-renewable resource. Many state and local agencies, the Federal government, and private companies already use re-refined oil in their vehicle fleets.
- Re-refined motor oil conserves the crude oil supply by re-using the motor oil rather than having to extract additional crude oil from diminishing domestic supplies or importing additional crude oil from foreign countries. For every gallon of used oil recycled, 2.5 quarts of re-refined motor oil can be produced. Buying re-refined motor oil reduces our dependence on foreign oil.
- Conserving our non-renewable oil supplies is not the only benefit. By buying re-refined motor oil, less used motor oil will be used as fuel, resulting in cleaner air (currently, more than half of all used motor oil is recycled into fuel oil cutter stock, where it is blended with off-specification or heavy crude based materials and burned as fuel, resulting in air pollution from phosphates, sulfur, and heavy metals).
Additional Resources for Motor Oil, Re-Refined
Furniture, Environmentally Preferable
Many traditional office and school furniture products contain harmful chemicals in the adhesives, finishes, foams, fabrics and other materials that impacts indoor air quality. They may also use a large amount of virgin resources, from wood to plastics. As the industry has matured, it is now easier to ask for and find greener alternatives that are comparable on performance, style, and price. Many manufacturers of commercial and institutional furniture are actively competing on environmental and health attributes for their products.
The Operational Services Division’s Environmentally Preferable Products Procurement (EPP) Program has worked with existing vendors to identify environmentally preferable “lines” of furniture on Statewide Contract OFF38: Office, School and Library Furniture, Accessories & Installation that have reduced indoor air quality emissions and toxicity:
- Finding EPP Furniture on Statewide Contract OFF38: Office, School and Library Furniture, Accessories & Services:this is a two page summary description of the OFF38 EPP Furniture Table.
- Guidance for Environmental Preferable Furniture: Review of Chemicals of Concern and Certifications & Standards, August 2016: includes a summary of chemicals of concern typically used in the furniture industry, and a list of some of the certifications and standards that have been used to measure environmental performance of furniture.
- OFF38 EPP Furniture Table, 7/1/2016: searchable list of furniture lines from existing OFF38 Vendor offerings which notes whether the products meet environmentally preferable criteria, including those for indoor air quality. All information in the table was submitted by the vendors and has not been verified by the Commonwealth of MA. Buyers should confirm with the vendor all environmental specifications prior to purchase and should discuss how the vendor will provide evidence of conformance. This table is meant solely as a guide to help buyers identify environmentally preferable options and is current as of 7/1/2016.
- Contract User Guide for OFF38: Office, School and Library Furniture, Accessories & Installation includes summary of all components of the statewide contract.
Additional Resources for Furniture, Environmentally Preferable
Remanufactured Toner Cartridges
Executive Order 515 requires the purchase of remanufactured and other environmentally preferable products (EPPs) wherever they are available. The Joint Enterprise Printer Cartridge Acquisition Policy, issued by the Operational Services Division and the Information Technology Division on October 27, 2012, requires all Executive Department Agencies to purchase remanufactured laser print toner cartridges wherever they are available, and makes the same requirement for Non-Executive Department Agencies using Commonwealth Information Technology Capital Funds.
The Commonwealth’s goal is to ensure that a minimum of 80% of all laser printer toner cartridge purchases by Executive Departments are remanufactured. In addition, all other Commonwealth entities are encouraged to adopt, at a minimum, policies and requirements to support this policy.
There are multiple cartridge manufacturers making a wide range high quality, third-party certified products for most equipment models. Remanufactured cartridges must be guaranteed to meet Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) standards, and be certified to meet all test methods developed and used by the printer cartridge industry. All vendors offer cartridge recycling at no cost to customers and some may offer rebates on the cartridges.
Policies and Guidance
- ITC66 Contract User Guide: This guide provides a general summary of the contract, outlines pricing and purchase options, includes a vendor list, and reviews benefits and cost savings associated with the contract.
- ITD Enterprise Printer Cartridge Acquisition Policy (10/27/2012): This Policy establishes requirements for the purchase and recycling of laser printer toner cartridges aimed at increasing the purchase and use of remanufactured laser printer cartridges throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Department agencies by 40% during Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) and by a minimum of 10% annually thereafter.
- ITC66 Remanufactured Toner Cartridge FAQs : This Frequently Asked Questions reviews some of the most asked questions regarding the ITD Enterprise Printer Cartridge Acquisition Policy.
- Remanufactured Printer Cartridge Resolution Guidance : Developed jointly by ITD and OSD, this guidance reviews steps agencies can take to resolve issues when using remanufactured toner cartridges.
- Case Studies: These case studies highlight Agency success in transitioning to remanufactured cartridges.
Hybrid (Gasoline and Electric) Vehicles
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) represent the latest in automotive technology, and are among the cleanest cars ever to be offered to consumers. The twin goals of hybrid manufacturers are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to increase fuel efficiency. The power source for all hybrid vehicles is a combination of an ultra-efficient internal combustion engine and a high-output electric motor.
Unlike electric vehicles (EVs), HEVs never need to be plugged into an electrical outlet. When needed, the battery that powers the electric motor is charged primarily through the gasoline engine and through regenerative braking. The gasoline engine is turned off when not needed - sitting at a stoplight, braking, or descending a hill. Other technological advancements include utilization of low rolling resistance tires, advanced catalytic converters, low aerodynamic drag, and weight savings. Although the Honda Hybrid Civic and the Toyota Prius are currently the only hybrids available to consumers, all of the leading car manufactures are researching and developing hybrids.
Environmental and Public Health Impacts
There are over 240 million motor vehicles on the road in the U.S. today, nearly 10 million of which are in public and private fleets (BTS, 2006; CTA, 2006a). Internal combustion engines drive most fleet vehicles and produce detrimental environmental impacts on a local, regional, and global scale. On the local and regional level, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions cause acid rain that causes damage to trees, crops, and water ecosystems. On a global level, motor vehicles are a major source of global warming pollutants. (Information in this section is from www.responsiblepurchasing.org ).
Energy - Over 95 percent of the fuel used by motor vehicles in the U.S. is petroleum-based (CTA, 2006b). As a result, motor vehicles emit close to one-third of our country's total annual carbon dioxide emissions (DOE, 2006). These motor vehicles emit more carbon dioxide than the total national emissions from any country other than China and Russia (EPA, 2006d; Marland, 2006). Carbon dioxide emissions contribute to global climate change, which results in a warmer atmosphere and impacts such as extreme summertime heat, rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, shifting rainfall patterns, migrating disease vectors such as malaria and West Nile virus, bleaching of coral reefs, and species extinction. These changes are likely to affect agriculture and fisheries, will result in increased prevalence of extreme weather events including floods and droughts, and could lead to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Air Quality - The three most prevalent local air pollutants from vehicles are carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxides. In addition, vehicles also emit small amounts of volatile organic compounds and sulfur dioxide.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) - is an odorless and colorless gas with high toxicity. Combustion of gasoline in vehicle engines is a primary source of CO in most cities today (ALA, 2000). When CO is inhaled, it enters the blood stream and inhibits the blood's ability to carry oxygen to the body's cells. In extreme cases, CO exposure can quickly cause death. Effects under lower concentrations include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and nausea as well as long term lung and heart disease. In the last twenty years, CO emissions in the U.S. have dropped by over fifty percent due to vehicle engine improvements such as catalytic converters. Nevertheless, road vehicles are still responsible for nearly half of the CO emissions in the U.S. each year (EPA, 2005).
Particulate Matter (PM) - consists of small particles and liquid droplets that result from fuel combustion and industrial activities (EPA, 2003). Road vehicles are responsible for four percent of particulate emissions in the U.S., over half of which are from heavy-duty diesel vehicles (EPA, 2005). The health impact of PM is related to the size of the particle; with small particles (less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) having greater health risk since they are able to penetrate deeply into lung tissue and in some cases enter the bloodstream (EPA, 2006a). Immediate effects of PM exposure include shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Dozens of peer-reviewed studies link prolonged PM exposure to human health problems including respiratory disease, heart disease, and birth defects (HEI, 2003). Since 2002, PM emissions from heavy-duty diesel vehicles have declined by over fifty percent thanks to cleaner engines and fuels as well as particulate filters on exhaust pipes. PM emissions from diesel vehicles should decrease even more thanks to new EPA fuel standards. PM emissions from light-duty vehicles have remained constant over the past decade.
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) - are a highly reactive class of gases that form when nitrogen and oxygen bind together during fuel combustion. Motor vehicles are responsible for over one-third of NOx emissions in the U.S., particularly in metropolitan areas with high population densities (EPA, 2005). Ground level ozone, commonly referred to as "smog," is created when NOx mixes with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and becomes exposed to intense sunlight. NOx can also produce acid rain and other toxic pollutants in the air and water (EPA, 2006b). Smog reduces lung function in exposed people and leads to long-term damage to the respiratory system. Acid rain can harm exposed people's respiratory system (EPA, 2006c). Thanks to improved engine technologies, improved fuel blends, and advanced catalytic converters, NOx emissions from light duty cars have fallen by over 1/3 during the past decade (EPA, 1994; EPA, 2005). However, light duty gas trucks and heavy-duty diesel vehicles have emitted constant levels of NOx during the same time period (EPA, 2005).
Water - Motor vehicles cause water pollution when detergents used for vehicle cleaning are washed into sewers, engine fluids leak from vehicles or are disposed of carelessly, vehicle residues such as oil, gasoline, and wiper fluids are washed from roadways by rainfall, and air pollutants from vehicles are absorbed into rain. Environmental impacts of water pollution caused by vehicles (and other point and non-point sources) include algae blooms that reduce oxygen supplies in water and lead to fish kills, outbreaks of pathogens and other pests in degraded water, and drinking water supply contamination. In some cases, water bodies become so contaminated with pollutants that they can no longer support life.
Benefits of Purchasing Hybrid Vehicles
The two main benefits of hybrids are increased fuel economy and reduced overall tailpipe emissions. On average, hybrids achieve double the fuel efficiency of the average car (50 mpg for hybrid, 25 mpg for conventional). Because hybrids use less gas per mile than the conventional car, hybrids will increase national security by reducing the U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Similarly, significant environmental benefits have also been realized through the introduction of hybrids. Because less gas is used per mile, HEV's emit less carbon monoxide (CO), non-methane organic gas (NMOG), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon dioxide (CO 2) than conventional cars. Reduced tailpipe emissions have also been linked to a decrease in the rate of respiratory illnesses, including bronchitis, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma.
By using a more efficient gasoline engine, HEVs can go 7,500 miles or six months in between regular maintenance service. Both the Civic Hybrid and the Prius come with three-year warranties, and all of the hybrid components are covered for eight years.
Additional Resources for Hybrid (Gasoline and Electric) Vehicles
Office Supplies, Copy Paper and Envelopes, Recycled Content
Paper is one of the most utilized products in the world for business as well as individual activities. Contrary to the optimistic prediction of years ago that improvements in electronic technologies would eventually render a "paperless" society, the use of paper products has been ever increasing. As a result, it is not surprising that the impact of manufacturing, processing and using such an enormous quantity of wood pulp has a huge impact on the environment and public health of the planet.
According to the third party certification organization, Green Seal, the pulp & paper industry ranks first in use of industrial process water, third in toxic chemical releases and fourth in emissions of air pollutants known to impair respiratory health. Some of the consequences associated with these operations include deforestation of large wooded areas, including old growth endangered forests and rainforests; an acceleration of climate change conditions; environmental pollution of air and water, and an increase in waste materials.
Recognizing this fact, many governments and institutions are now using post-consumer recycled content papers for office, janitorial, and foodservice operations, and when possible, replace virgin wood paper products with tree-free alternatives such as kenaf or bamboo. Unbleached paper products and items bleached without the use of chlorine or chlorine derivatives are also preferable.
Since 1994, Massachusetts has only purchased office paper and envelopes with a minimum post-consumer recycled content of 30% (unless a particular paper type is only available with a lesser percentage) and other janitorial and foodservice papers that meet federal recycled content standards. In addition, 50% and 100% post-consumer content are available on the state contract as well as various tree-free options. The quality, performance and availability of the products are equal to their virgin counterparts. Although recycled content paper can be slightly more expensive than the virgin paper at the time of purchase (often depending on the volume of the purchase), experience indicates that recycled paper is eventually less expensive when considering long term impacts and life cycle cost of the product.
Environmental and Public Health Impacts
The manufacturing process utilized by the pulp and paper industry promotes a significant impact to the environment and public health. From the practices employed in obtaining virgin pulp to the chemicals used in production and finally, the output of solid and hazardous waste, should be taken into consideration when purchasing any type of paper product. Some of these impacts include:
Deforestation and Resource Deprivation
Trees may be renewable, but old-growth forest plant and animal habitats and ecosystems are often not renewable because of the complex ecological balance which was built over thousands, even millions, of years. The practice of continuous large-scale logging accelerates deforestation and leads to global warming, and eventually affects forest resources for future generations.
According to Dolphin Blue, forest cover has decreased to 4-6% in the last 200 years. Commercial logging of tropical forest doubled since 1960, and wood consumption has tripled during the 20 th century, causing deforestation at staggering rates. For example, an area the size of Connecticut is being clear-cut in the North American Boreal Forest each day. According to the estimate of Dolphin Blue, one ton (40 cartons) of uncoated virgin printing and office paper requires 24 trees; newsprint production requires 12 trees. [In the U.S., about 30% of the timber harvested is used to make paper products (Green Seal)].
Toxic Pollution and Health Implications
Many toxic chemicals are used in paper making, especially toxic solvents and chlorine compounds used to bleach and delignify pulp. Additional toxins are used as biocides to prevent bacterial growth in the pulp and finished paper products. According to Green Seal, the paper manufacturing industry releases 1.5 trillion gallons of wastewater contaminated with organ chlorine compounds each year. The chlorine and chlorine derivatives that are used for bleaching create organ chlorines as by-products, which are considered dioxins, or substances that can cause cancer and create other reproductive disorders, as well as impacts to developmental and the immune system. Organ chlorines, persist in the environment indefinitely, traveling long distances and accumulating up through the food chain.
Pulp and paper mills are large sources of standard air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and particulates, volatile organic compounds, nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. These contribute to ozone warnings, acid rain, climate change and respiratory problems and have a detrimental effect on plant and aquatic life.
Water and Energy Consumption
Paper making uses a great deal of water, which can diminish groundwater supplies and it is very energy intensive. The process often draws large amounts of electricity from public utilities, sometimes requiring mills to build their own power plants. In fact, making one ton of paper by burning fossil fuels uses more than 680 gallons of oil and 10,601 kilowatt hours of electricity as well as releases greenhouse gases and other hazardous pollutants into the air. In addition, the process represents various hidden damages due to fuel extraction at the source (oil drilling, oil spills, coal mining, pipelines, transmission lines, etc.)
According to EPA's 2005 report, paper and paperboard products represent 34%, or the largest component of all Municipal Solid Waste. Although the recycling rate of paper has increased in recent years, an estimated 50% of waste paper still ends up in the waste stream annually, contributing to expanded landfills, increased incineration and air, water, and soil contamination.
Benefits of Purchasing Recycled-Content Paper and Envelopes
Recycled office and janitorial paper products can be manufactured to the same quality and performance standards as paper from virgin pulp. This has not always been true. In the earlier stages of development, recycled fiber was simply substituted for virgin fiber without re-engineering the manufacturing processes and some of the papers manufactured under these conditions did not perform as well as the virgin paper. Since then, the market has evolved and most manufacturers are now producing many varieties of high-quality, cost-competitive recycled paper.
In fact, according to studies done by the USEPA, using recycled fiber is actually cheaper than harvesting and processing virgin fiber and can save 22-64% of energy costs over virgin paper production. Considering that there is a substantial amount of paper still left in the waste stream, the potential for much greater savings remains, especially in high-grade printing and writing papers that may contain only 10% post-consumer waste. Some other benefits to purchasing recycled content paper products include the following (links to the information sources referenced below are provided under the "Related Links" bullet at the end of this page):
- Primary resources conservation - 1 ton of 30% post-consumer content copier paper (or tree-free materials such as kenaf) saves 7.2 trees, and 12 trees for 50% (Source: Dolphin Blue)
- Water and energy conservation (in the production system) - Using 1 ton of 100% recycled paper saves 4,100 kwh of energy and 7,000 gallons of water (Source: Conservatree)
- Air/ water/ soil pollution prevention - Choosing paper products that are manufactured without any chlorine compounds in their current production cycle, such as Process Chlorine Free (PCF) and Totally Chlorine Free (TCF), are preferred over Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) which substitutes chlorine derivatives (primarily chlorine dioxide) in the bleaching process. Also, using 1 ton of 100% recycled paper keeps more than 60 pounds of pollution out of the air (Source: Conservatree)
- Waste prevention - Reducing the volume of paper going into the waste stream also reduces air pollution from incineration and saves landfill space. 1 ton of recycled paper saves 3 cubic yards of land fill space (Source: Green Seal)
- Global warming prevention - Reducing waste paper products going into combustors serves to limit the emission of greenhouse gases and work toward mitigating climate change conditions.(Source: USEPA)
In Fiscal Year 2006, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts purchased an estimated $21,137,700.07 worth of recycled content paper products, including the paper types mentioned above as well as various printed materials and lottery tickets (made with a minimum of 10% post-consumer content). Using the environmental benefits calculator (EnviroCalc) developed by the Massachusetts EPP Program, the following benefits were recorded for FY2006:
Weight of Material Recycled
Annual solid waste generation of 2,032 households
544acres of wood plantation
Landfill space savings
13,752 cubic yards
688 loaded garbage trucks
64,253 million BTU
Energy content of 11,078 barrels of oil
Carbon dioxide emissions
Annual tailpipe emissions of 3,092 cars
Environmentally Preferable Products Procurement Program Case Study about Performance Shell Jackets & Fleece Made From 100% Recycled Plastic.