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Stanford purchases and uses environmentally preferable products as much as possible, and is developing a university-wide purchasing program that supports suppliers of environmentally preferable products and services.

Consistent with Stanford’s sustainability goals, the Procurement Department and the associated Sustainability Working Team developed Sustainable Purchasing Guidelines. Key points are also summarized on Stanford's purchasing website. The purpose of these guidelines is to support and facilitate the purchase of products, services and materials that minimize the harmful effects to the environment from their production, transportation, use and disposition.

Recycled paper is less expensive than virgin paper under the campus-wide office supply contract.

To make purchasing choices easier, the Procurement Department is determining environmental standards for widely used products and supplies. Factors that determine whether a product is environmentally preferable include:

  • Use of recycled or recyclable materials
  • Minimal packaging
  • Environmental and financial costs over the product’s life
  • Toxicity of materials or application
  • Ability to reduce energy or water consumption
  • Durability and product life
  • Maintenance needs
  • Environmental impact of product disposal

Purchasing Initiatives

Stanford has made good progress in lessening its environmental impact with responsible purchasing of products and services in several areas:

Paper & Office Supplies

  • In 2013, 100% of the paper purchased by Stanford had recycled content, and 6% of the paper purchased had 90-100% recycled content.
  • The campus-wide Corporate Express office supply contract sets a negotiated price for recycled paper that makes it less expensive than virgin paper.
  • Almost all campus facilities use toilet paper and paper towels made from recycled content.
  • Under the HP Printer and Recycle Cartridge Program, used inkjet cartridges returned for recycling earn points toward new printers that are more energy-efficient and use less ink than older models. This program provided many free printers for the new Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment + Energy Building.
  • Through the Corporate Express recycled toner program, offices campus-wide recycle spent cartridges.

Operations & Services

  • The Green Cleaning Program replaced harmful chemicals with Green Seal–certified products. Stanford staff use microfiber cloths and vacuums with HEPA filters, reducing paper waste and improving air quality.
  • In 2013, 81% of the cleaning products purchased by Stanford were Green Seal-certified.
  • The Procurement department is working to consolidate FedEx pickups and deliveries to decrease the number of trucks on campus.

Food & Dining

  • In 2013-14, 40% of Stanford Dining’s food and beverage purchases were considered local, community-based and/or third-party verified. These purchases include organic apples, organic and local spring mix from Earthbound Farms, cage-free eggs from Wilcox Farms, Monterey Bay Aquarium “good” and “best choice" seafood, Wild Alaskan salmon from Taku River Reds, and many others.
  • Compostable break room supplies (plates, utensils, etc.) are available for ordering in the Campus Wide Agreement catalog.

Equipment & Appliances

  • In 2013, 100% of Stanford’s electronics purchases were EPEAT registered, and 94% of those purchases were registered as EPEAT Gold, the highest level.
  • Stanford’s Energy Retrofit Program offers rebates for several new appliances that are Energy Star certified.
  • The university purchased new, energy-efficient lab freezers for the medical school to replace older, less efficient models.
  • Stanford encourages purchasing energy-efficient desktop computers, servers, copiers and other office machines when older machines need to be replaced. We are laying the groundwork for major initiatives to consolidate purchases and suppliers.


  • The Procurement Department hosts yearly Green Product Shows, focusing on recycled and green office products.
  • To encourage the use of recycled paper, there are comparisons of recycled and virgin paper posted online and through a partnership with Students for a Sustainable Stanford, they serve to educate campus departments about paper choices.
  • The Procurement Department partners with Stanford Recycling to conduct FYI Forums about purchasing and recycling.