Switch to recycled paper cuts energy consumption

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April 17, 2009

4:38 AM

The College of William and Mary’s Office of Procurement has decided to switch to copy paper with 75 percent recycled content as part of a larger effort to make the campus greener and more sustainable.
The change was recommended by the Science and Technical Advisory Committee, a part of the Committee of Sustainability. COS is co-chaired by Interim Dean of the Law School Lynda Butler and Professor of Marine Science Virginia Institute of Marine Science Dennis Taylor.

“As part of the Science and Technical Advisory Committee’s work on the greenhouse gas inventory, they reviewed options and analyzed the impacts before making a recommendation to the Steering Committee,” Taylor said. “As co-chair of the COS, our job is to work with the Steering Committee and Committee Chairs to set goals and ensure progress in carrying out the College’s sustainability policy.”

STAC chair and biology professor John Swaddle said the change of paper is a result of an ongoing study of greenhouse gas emissions at the College.

“As part of that study, we considered the carbon footprint of major items that the College purchases on a regular basis” Swaddle said. “Printer and copier paper is one such major item, so we started to investigate alternatives to our usual paper. The Office of Procurement was very helpful in locating alternatives and quickly honed in on the Navigator paper.”

Taylor said there are many environmental benefits to the new paper.

“The paper is 75 percent recycled content, which means that fewer trees are cut and less energy is consumed,” Taylor said. “This means the equivalent of a greenhouse gas reduction of about 90 tons per year, forever.”

Office of Procurement director Linda Orr said that this greenhouse gas reduction is equivalent to taking 20-30 cars off the road.

The Office of Procurement selects options for the College as a whole, so this change will be made in every unit and department.

“What’s happened is that the Office of Procurement has changed the preferred paper choice for the whole university, so all offices are expected to follow this change. The feedback we’ve got back from individual departments and offices so far has been extremely positive,” Swaddle said.

The Office of Procurement co-signed an announcement distributed to deans, directors, department chairs and supervisors to inform them of the change. In addition, announcements will be placed in the William & Mary Digest and the VIMS Business e-mail listserves,. The Office of Procurement will be in chcarge of enforcing the change.

“Copies of all office supply orders are received daily in the Office of Procurement,” Orr said. “Departmental staff will be contacted when paper orders for products other than the recycled-content paper are noticed to assure they are aware of the recommended change.”

Student Environmental Action Committee member and Steering Coalition student representative Philip Zapfel ’09 said that while COS made the ultimate decision to change the type of paper used, SEAC students helped in the effort.

“The choice to buy recycled paper was made by the Committee on Sustainability. SEAC has many members that also work with the Committee, so our members did have some chance for input,” Zapfel said.

Taylor said the change of paper is part of a larger effort to make the campus more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

“This is part of the broad mission of the Committee of Sustainability set out in President Reveley’s sustainability policy last spring, to meet the needs and expectations of the College in a way that allows future generations to meet theirs,” Taylor said. “It means finding ways to conserve energy and reduce the environmental impacts of the College’s activities. In the long term, we will become more sustainable in our use of resources and will likely do so at less cost as well.”

Zapfel said changing to recycled paper is a good start and a necessary step toward an overall green procurement program for the College.

“There are so many things happening in regards to sustainability at the College. COS is currently working on a carbon footprint model of the college, a sustainable food-purchasing program and student sustainability internships,” Zapfel said. “SEAC is trying to improve recycling and expand the campus garden, and we’re also running an energy campaign in the Randolph Complex to encourage students to reduce their energy use. This is a great year for sustainability at William and Mary.”

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