Environmental Stewardship

The University is committed to environmental stewardship, conserving natural resources, and preserving the environment. We encourage suppliers to identify products, services, or processes that promote environmental stewardship. In addition to the requested bid, suppliers are encouraged to offer an additional bid for products, services, or processes that are more environmentally friendly. Such products or services should be bid as an alternate to the requested bid. Any exceptions or deviations from the original specifications must be clearly identified. The environmental benefits must be clearly identified with supporting data. Examples of such benefits include reduced life cycle costs, reduced energy consumption, recycled content, recycleability, extended product life, and decreased maintenance.

Environmental Programs and Practices

Collaborations and Recognitions

Penn State Purchasing and its departments are committed to being responsible stewards of University resources and the environment. As a major part of Finance & Business' environmental initiative, we have already taken several steps toward this goal and are continually searching for new ways to maximize purchasing value while making wise choices that benefit University and the environment.

Below are several examples on the different purchasing processes, policies, and programs that we have to help us become environmental stewards for the Penn State community.



The purchase of 30 percent post-consumer recycled envelopes has secured a savings of 14 percent when compared to the virgin envelopes purchased in 2009. The environmentally friendly envelopes are used in several including Multimedia & Print Center and the Registrar.


The University has a directive for its employees to purchase Energy Star appliances and electronics whenever possible. The University purchases Energy Star certified microwave-refrigerator combo units for all Penn State campuses.

Cleaning Products and Chemicals

We purchase environmentally friendly cleaning products whenever possible.

We also do not purchase 55-gallon drums of chemicals. The drums cause a hazardous waste stream that the University would have to pay for to remove. We work manufacturers to provide chemicals in a smaller size and at the price at or below the 55-gallon bulk price. We also purchase more environmentally friendly water treatment chemicals as they become available.


Penn State General Stores offers 30 percent recycled paper at a lower price than virgin paper. The recycled paper is packaged in recycled brown kraft cartons instead of bleached cartons. This extends the environmental benefits of the paper to its carton—recycled brown kraft cartons require fewer trees, less water, and no bleaching to manufacture. We also buy the paper by the truckload and receive a bulk discount. The University uses 100 percent recycled paper in all of its University Park computer labs.

Light Bulbs

We purchase non-hazard light bulbs.

Trash Liners

The University uses trash liners that meet or exceed the EPA standard for post-consumer resin content of 10 percent. For numerous applications, the University is using bags, which contain 70 percent post consumer resin. These applications include Housing, Commonwealth Campuses, and bags provided for recycling outside Beaver Stadium during football games. A portion of the liners used at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel and the Nittany Lion Inn contain 10 percent post consumer resin. The University is continuing to expand this program to other applications with the goal of having all trash liners meet or exceed the recommended EPA guidelines.


For Penn State’s annual computer bulk buy, EPEAT certification has been incorporated into the specifications. Some of the environmental benefits resulting from EPEAT certification include energy usage reduction as well as greenhouse gas and hazardous waste avoidance. In 2009, all desktop and laptop purchases made via the bulk buy program were EPEAT Gold registered. In conjunction with Dell, Penn State has instituted a multi-pack arrangement for its bulk desktop computer purchases to reduce the amount of packaging waste and time required to set up computers.

Janitorial Paper

The University uses janitorial paper products that meet or exceed the EPA standard. A program has been established to ensure that if virgin fiber is used, it is not sourced unsustainably from endangered forests.



The sanitation of data and subsequent sale of used computers and peripherals through our sales store and computer auctions significantly reduces the use of energy and materials to manufacture new goods. We sold in excess of 250 tons of these goods. Over 750 tons of computers, electronics, and other computer related goods were recycled (through approved vendors) resulting in savings in excess of $50,000 in landfill fees. This 1,000-ton recycling effort is equivalent to the weight of 217 elephants.

We revised our lost and found policy to allow materials that weren’t beneficial for sale at Lion Surplus and/or did not meet the State of Pennsylvania stature abandoned property to go to the Trash to Treasure program.

We also encourage and conduct sales and auctions at the Commonwealth Campuses to reduce costs from hauling between campuses such as vehicle wear and tear.

Purchasing Cards

Since the program began in 1996, we have been recycling cancelled purchasing cards. PNC Bank sends them back to the company that produces the plastic. There they are melted down to produce new cards. We recycle approximately 250 cards every year.

Ceiling Tiles

For three years, Penn State has been involved with Armstrong to recycle old ceiling tiles. Armstrong has dedicated a trailer to be used as a storage facility for the tiles. As OPP does renovation projects, old tile is stored in the trailer. Once the trailer is full, Armstrong transports the materials back to their plant to be recycled. Last year, 2,230 tiles were recycled. This program helps Penn State avoid landfill fees while keeping material out of the landfill. Aluminum ceiling track is also saved as scrap for recycling. Penn State Harrisburg has also utilized Armstrong’s services for recycling tile.



Along with several of Purchasing’s online eBusiness outlets, Travel has employed a paperless transaction process. All documents, except for when an airline requires paper, are now electronic and accepted as official receipts for reconciliation and reimbursement.

Travel has also added a section in its RFP for athletic team hotels that address environmental stewardship. This section asks the bidder to outline what they are doing in the area of recycling, conservation, use of environmentally friendly processes, and carbon offset.

General Stores

General Stores reduced paper usage by implementing an electronic tracking system. The system eliminates roughly 104,000 paper orders and 6,000 custom cylinder gas forms annually. This reduction is equivalent to the height of a four-story building.

General Stores is also the main processing center for used toner cartridges. Last year, 7.5 tons of used toner cartridges were processed for recycling at the University Park campus.

General Stores offers a wide array of recycled products that can be found in its catalog and can be ordered online through eBuy, including Boise Aspen recycled paper (30 percent post-consumer content, 10 reams/carton) and is available by the skid or carton.

General Stores has also added Energy Star certified Sylvania micro-mini compact fluorescent lamp and a wide array of green cleaning products and chemicals to the product line.

In an effort to improve efficiency and become more sustainable, General Stores will enact a four-day delivery week starting October 11, 2010. General Stores offers many environmental options and services to the Penn State community, including a wide array of "green" office products that can be found in the General Stores catalog or ordered online through eBuy.


eBuy, the University’s e-procurement system, reduces paper usage by electronically delivering purchasing orders and electronically processing invoices and payments. The reduction during 2009 was equivalent to the height of a 12-story building.