Green Purchasing Policy


Muhlenberg College is committed to reducing negative impacts on the environment wherever possible and recognizes that the purchase, use, and disposal of products impacts the environment and public health. Muhlenberg intends to integrate economic, ethical, environmental, and social considerations into all purchasing decisions, while maintaining standards of cost and value.

Price, performance, availability and environmental considerations will all be taken into account when making purchasing decisions in such a manner that maintains fiscal responsibility, while promoting practices to improve public health and safety, to reduce pollution, and to conserve natural resources.

It is important to reduce waste at the point of purchase.  Faculty, staff, and students must share responsibility for implementing a green purchasing plan, for reducing unnecessary orders, and for purchasing products made from recycled material that can be reused or recycled.  All external vendors working on campus are encouraged to adhere to this policy.


Environmentally preferable products and services are those that are less detrimental to the environment and human health than competing products and services. Considerations include raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, and final disposal of the product.

Preferred Environmental Attributes

  • Durable as opposed to single use or disposable; also upgradeable where applicable
  • Made from recycled materials with a maximum of post-consumer content
  • If recycled materials not available, made of rapidly renewable materials
  • Biodegradable or compostable
  • Recyclable, or if not recyclable, able to be disposed of safely
  • Made from raw materials obtained in a sustainable, environmentally sound manner
  • Manufactured in an environmentally sound manner by companies with good environmental track records
  • No or minimal environmental damage caused during normal use and maintenance
  • Minimal use of additional consumables
  • Non-toxic or minimally toxic and carcinogen-free
  • Heavy metal free (lead, mercury, cadmium)
  • Energy efficient
  • Water efficient
  • Shipped with minimal packaging, necessary packaging preferably made of recycled materials and collected for reuse
  • Produced locally or regionally in order to minimize the environmental costs associated with shipping

Specific Goals and Recommendations:



  1. Evaluate total cost of ownership and purchase durable goods
    • Use life-cycle cost analysis rather than choosing goods with the lowest purchase price-factor in purchase price, operating and energy costs, maintenance, consumable supplies, collection and disposal, and recycling costs when selecting goods and suppliers
  2. All college personnel participating in the ordering process should minimize waste through careful consideration of what supplies and in what quantities are really necessary
  3. Encourage electronic/paperless ordering processes (Muhlenberg currently uses Buyspeed), including web-based catalogs and programs
  4. Include environmental criteria in bid specifications
  5. Require vendors to minimize packaging and to reclaim packing and delivery materials for reuse (particularly pallets and other durable items)
  6. Lease or rent rather than purchase when appropriate
    • This gives vendor responsibility for the upkeep and disposal of goods
    • Businesses that lease equipment tend to manufacture more durable items, salvage reusable parts, refurbish, recycle, or donate used equipment that can no longer be leased
    • Renting is a cost-effective option for short-term equipment needs.


Recommendations for Paper and Office Supplies

  1. Purchase office paper and other supplies (tablets, folders, etc.) with a minimum of 30% post consumer waste (PCW) recycled content, and preferably 100% PCW recycled content
  2. For uncut paper, including janitorial supplies, require 100% PCW recycled content
  3. Purchase recycled toner cartridges and recycle ink and toner cartridges
  4. Purchase printers, copiers, and fax machines with duplex capabilities and make duplex mode the default setting

Recommendations for Appliances and Electronics

  1. Give preference to Energy Star appliances and require suppliers to deliver electronic equipment with energy efficiency and conservation features enabled
  2. Use rechargeable batteries rather than disposable batteries where possible
  3. Require new computers, laptops, and monitors to meet Bronze registration or higher under the Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool, with additional consideration given to electronics that meet Silver or Gold registration (EPEAT;
  4. Recycle all electronic waste in a responsible manner
    • Give preferences to manufacturers who take back electronics for recycling at the end of their lifespan
    • Contract with a vendor who has signed the Electronics Recycler's Pledge of True Stewardship (vendors found at for additional electronic recycling (batteries, computers, etc.); provided the vendor meets any additional necessary requirements and certifications
    • Require a take-back program for packaging of electronics products, with preference to those offering programs free of charge
    • Give preference to packaging that is reusable, minimizes use of hazardous and non-recyclable materials, and is made of recycled post consumer waste content and/or is biodegradable

Recommendations for Furniture and Structures

  1. Purchase recycled plastic outdoor-wood substitutes for benches, fencing, signs, etc. when aesthetically acceptable and financially prudent considering life cycle costs
  2. When purchasing wood products, give preference to wood sustainably harvested (FSC certified) and with low VOC and formaldehyde content
  3. Give preference to durable fabrics made with recycled content
  4. Give preference to carpet, tiles, and insulation made of recycled and non-toxic materials

Recommendations for Purchasing goods containing fewer toxic constituents

  1. Use Green Seal certified cleaning products whenever possible
  2. Choose bio-based and biodegradable solvents, cleaners, inks, lubricants, and fuels whenever possible


Useful websites for sustainability standards:

Paper and Forest Products:

Forest Stewardship Council -

Chlorine Free Products Association -

Electronics and Appliances:

Energy Star -

Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) -


Environmental Choice -

Green Guard -

Green Seal -

Scientific Certification Systems -

Building Practices and Indoor Air Quality:

Green Building Council (LEED) -