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Environmentally preferable office products include pens, clips, file folders, white boards, and just about anything found in the pages of an office supply catalog. Environmentally preferable means they contain recycled materials, are recyclable, have less packaging, use non- or less- toxic chemicals, reduce waste, or have other environmental and public health benefits.

  • Project Talking Points

    Hospitals use a huge variety of office supplies including large quantities of paper products. The sheer volume of materials is reason enough to use less when possible, but some of these products may have an adverse environmental and human health impact at some or multiple points during their life cycle. Some paper products can even contribute to adverse skin conditions such as dermatitis.

    Office supply manufacturers are increasingly offering a wide range of products made from recycled materials, including 3-ring binders, desk accessories, CDs and diskettes, mouse pads, paper clips, and pens and pencils. Plastic desktop accessories like notepad and pencil holders, trays and organizers can be made with 25-80% postconsumer content, and plastic trash bag liners with 10-100% postconsumer recycled content. Check for plastic binders with up to 100% post consumer recycled content depending on the type of plastic.

    Other examples of EPP office products include rechargeable batteries, water-based and non-toxic highlighters and markers. There are many environmentally preferable office supplies available on the market. Work with your supplier to advance the selection of recycled content products and to reduce expenditure on traditional product.

  • Triple Bottom Line Benefits

    Cost benefits: Both direct and indirect. EPP office products have been on the market for many years and are becoming increasingly popular, so many times the cost of EPP products are competitive with or even lower than non-EPP products. Indirect costs may include reduced total cost of ownership related to packaging that must be handled, removed, and recycled or disposed of. Durable office products reduce waste disposal costs.

    Environmental benefits: Include material reduction that equates to life-cycle energy and water savings, reduced toxicity in the environment, and disposal costs.

    Health and safety benefits: Include fewer toxins being released into the environment. Staff is often pleased to be using products that are environmentally preferable and less toxic for them. Remember to let your staff and community know when you are purchasing EPP products. 


  • Purchasing Considerations

    • Check out the EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines on purchasing considerations for non-paper office products.

    • Work with your primary office supply distributor(s) to integrate environmentally preferable office supply purchasing standards where feasible.

  • How-To

    • Identify EPP office products that are priced equally or are less expensive than traditional products. Work with your supplier and trial team to test products for customer satisfaction before wide-spread use. 
    • Be sure to communicate widely your intentions and request feedback from a geographically varied and functionally diverse stakeholder group early in the planning process to improve execution of any changes in products. Utilize communication methodology such as posters, flyers, intranet postings, and emails to get feedback.
    • Partner with Infection Control personnel to identify employees’ sensitivities – skin, smell, etc.
    • Partner with your supplier to develop and execute a roll-out plan in phases, substituting environmentally preferable products with less desirable office products.
    • Increase the visibility and selection of available greener office supplies.
    • Track all cost savings, environmental improvements, and staff satisfaction scores. Report regularly on findings.
  • Tools

    Recycled Content (Re-Con) Tool

    Scroll down to “Step 2” on this page. The calculator allows you to estimate savings based on the percentage of recycled content in the items you are purchasing.

    If you have an ROI tool, calculator, or similar resources to share, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.

  • Case Studies

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Recycled-Content Product Procurement
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Langley Research Center increased purchases of recycled-content office products by 500%.

    Use recognized environmental standards (, to help identify certified postconsumer recycled content items.


  • Regulations, Codes and Standards, Policies

    Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG) - Nonpaper Office Products
    EPA recycled-content recommendations for procurement of nonpaper office products.

    Use recognized environmental standards (, to help identify certified postconsumer recycled content items.

  • Cross References: GGHC

    GGHC Operations Version 2.2 2008, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, Credit 2.2, Toxic Chemical Reduction in Purchasing: Implementation, 1 point.

    GGHC Operations Version 2.2 2008, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, Credit 6.1, Office Supplies: Paper and Non-Paper Product, 1 point.

    GGHC Operations Version 2.2 2008, Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, Credit 6.2, Office Supplies: 100% Post-Consumer Recycled Content and Processed Chlorine Free Paper Products, 1 point.


  • PIM Synergies

    EPP: Rechargeable batteries

    EPP: Purchase recycled toners and/or soy-based inks

    Energy Star Office Equipment

  • Education Resources

    If you have any information or resources to contribute, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.


  • More Resources

    EPA’s EPP Green Guide to eProcurement of Office Supplies

    Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG), EPA designates over 50 recycled content product categories and suggests recycled content ranges based on studies of market availability and product performance. This website includes a database of suppliers searchable by state.

    The Official Recycled Products Guide is located on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s website. Established in 1989, this guide features over 4,500 recycled content products searchable by product type or company name.

    State of Washington EPP Fact Sheet on Re-used Office Supplies and Furniture

    Alameda County’s Fact Sheet on Environmentally Preferable Nonpaper Office Products

    Recycled Content Product Database (California Integrated Waste Management Board) lists thousands of recycled content products, manufacturers, and vendors. It is regularly updated with new information. 

  • PIM Descriptors

    Supply Chain

    Level: Beginner

    Category List:

    • Office Supplies
    • Paper
    • Products

    PIM Attributes:

    • Chemicals
    • Waste Reduction

    Improvement Type:

    • Waste Minimization


    • Purchasing/Materials Management/Supply Chain
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