As a sustainable institution, the University of Idaho has reduced its environmental impact by purchasing sustainable products and abiding by university procurement policies. By purchasing sustainable products, such as recycled paper or locally grown food, the U of I minimizes its greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of waste we send to the landfill.
Sustainable Solutions White Paper
In an effort to further reduce how much waste the University of Idaho produces, the Sustainability Working Group has proposed new procurement standards for the university, outlined in the Sustainable Solutions White Paper:
- Recommendation 3.7: Establish procurement standards by which to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic on campus in dining services, vending and research labs. This could include:
- Providing reusable to-go food containers for campus residential and retail dining locations
- Replacing all single-use straws and cutlery at campus dining locations with compostable or reusable products
- Adding water bottle fill stations in each building
2009 Recycled Paper Policy
U of I policy (APM) 60.50 states, “All University of Idaho units are required to purchase office paper with a minimum sustainable specification of acid-free 30% post-consumer waste recycled paper content. In addition, colored paper and paper of other sizes will be purchased as 30% or higher recycled, acid-free paper. The University strongly supports purchasing the maximum recyclable content possible, up to 100% recycled, Processed Chlorine Free paper.”
University Surplus manages the auction and sale of university assets that are no longer being used. Instead of throwing away older items, employees can take them to Surplus and have them resold. Having a surplus system is a great way to reduce how much waste we produce as a university and provide quality second-hand items to our community. The Surplus store is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays. For more information, visit the Surplus website.
Why Is This Important?
The items we buy for ourselves and our university have a significant impact on the environment and society. Unsustainable products can have negative environmental effects, such as pollution produced from processing materials, plastic and chemical waste from packaging products, greenhouse gas emissions from transporting products and using unsustainably sourced production materials. Unsustainable products can also have negative societal effects, including inequitable conditions for workers like low wages and unsafe work environments. As we continue to move toward a more sustainable world, it is important for us to consider where our purchased products come from and how they were made. Sustainable procurement refers to how businesses can identify and reduce the environmental and social impacts of their supply chains. This includes: identifying suppliers who are low-impact, fair trade or environmentally friendly; identifying suppliers who pay their workers fair, equitable wages and provide safe, healthy conditions for workers; purchasing products that use responsibly sourced materials; purchasing products that reduce waste during production and transportation; and purchasing products that have low-waste, plastic-free packaging that can be composted, recycled or reused.
Ways You Can Help
Vandals can help support sustainable procurement by purchasing sustainable products on campus when possible and by suggesting replacements when they see an unsustainable product that has an environmentally friendly alternative. Off-campus Vandals can do their part by paying attention to fair trade and organic labels, and types of packaging when purchasing their groceries or other personal items. Another great option that is both sustainable and affordable is to buy used items from charities and thrift stores; buying used items not only reduces how much waste we send to landfills, but it also supports local non-profits that do good for our communities.
If you would like to learn more about procurement, the following are great learning resources: