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Photo shows a female employee using a copy machine.

Alameda County buys recycled content paper for its copying and office printing needs, which saves trees, water, and energy, and reduces greenhouse gases.

Office Paper

Procuring recycled content products is a priority for Alameda County. Since 2014, we have required standard white copy papers to have 100% post-consumer recycled content, and all colored copy papers to have a minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled content. These efforts help to close the loop by creating markets for recycled office paper.

How We Did It

When going out to bid, we included specifications for the minimum amount of post-consumer recycled content for each paper product in the bid. By doing this, we made sure the bidders would give us their most competitive price for the products we wanted. Our strategy paid off with great pricing for the 100% recycled content products - even lower than our previous contract prices!

Challenge:

In previous contracts, the price premium for the 100% recycled content paper was a barrier for agencies to make the switch. To reduce the budget impact of making the switch, we implemented a number strategies to reduce paper use, such as e-signatures and digital business software, duplex printing defaults, and behavior change campaigns. These efforts have paid off, as we are spending less now on office paper than we did previously, even with the slightly higher cost of recycled content papers!

Benefits:

The paper making process is very energy and water intensive and uses a large number of chemicals, especially when producing virgin paper with no recycled content. Taken together, the County's efforts to buy less and buy better paper has resulted in conserving approximately 6,300 trees, and has reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 340 cars from the road for one year. (Environmental impact estimates were made using the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator Version 4.0, and compare 2019 usage over a 2010 baseline usage. For more information visit calculator.environmentalpaper.org/home)

Read more about Alameda County's strategic efforts on copy paper in this award-winning case study published by the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council.

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