Paper > Purchasing

Environmentally preferable paper products can often be purchased at little or no increase in cost. In addition, paper use can often be decreased by taking a few simple steps, such as double-siding copies and reducing the number of printers in use. These measures can reduce your organization’s overall paper budget.

Contact your organization’s paper suppliers and ask about environmentally preferable alternatives to the paper products that you are currently buying. The specifications below provide a useful guide when speaking to suppliers.

In addition to the specifications below, consult NRDC’s Shopper’s Guide to Home Tissue Products for a complete listing of preferable household tissue products. Conservatree’s Environmental Paper Listings also contains several preferable options for a range of different paper types. Also consult the EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database, which contains product specifications and contract language for a wide variety of additional products.

Calculate environmental benefits of recycled paper
Sample contract language – copy paper
Sample contract language – all paper products

Paper products specifications

  • Highest feasible percentage of post-consumer recycled content
  • Chlorine-free bleaching process
  • Wood fiber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council
  • Mercury-free pulping process

For more detailed paper procurement specifications, see this sample procurement policy.

Sample Letter to Current Suppliers

Dear _______,

In an effort to improve the environmental performance of our organization, we would like to meet to discuss the environmental attributes of the paper products that you are currently supplying. We would also like to discuss ways to cost-effectively switch to more environmentally preferable products within the next few years.

We are aware that the worldwide demand for paper products creates incentives for harvesting and manufacturing practices that are harmful to the environment. We would like to improve, as much as possible, the environmental performance of our paper consumption. We are particularly interested in improving the following attributes of the paper we buy:

    • Post-consumer recycled content
    • Forest Stewardship Council certification
    • Chlorine-free bleaching processes
    • Mercury-free pulping process

We look forward to speaking with you about this. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Benefits of Purchasing Environmentally Preferable Paper

The manufacture of virgin paper contributes to global warming, water pollution and is linked with the loss of forests and hazardous air pollution. By purchasing paper products made with recycled fiber, chlorine-free bleaching, and Forest Stewardship Council-certified tree fiber, you help to reduce these impacts. Paper made with recycled content produces significantly less air and water pollution, disrupts less habitat, and uses less energy than paper made from virgin fibers.

Additional Resources

NRDC – Paper Resources
Shopper’s Guide to Home Tissue Products
Environmental Paper Network
EPA – Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines
A Common Vision for Transforming the Paper Industry
Conservatree’s Environmental Paper Listings