Maryland Green Purchasing

Office Supplies

By procuring products that are reusable or refillable, recycled and recyclable, energy efficient, and sustainably manufactured, we can reduce the environmental footprint of purchases.


Background

Paper Supplies

To guide environmentally-friendly practices include the following:
  • Buy Recycled Products: Purchase paper products with a high recycled content to reduce the demand of raw resources and keep products out of the landfill.

  • Buy Sustainably Sourced Products: Procure products that source material from sustainably-managed forests. Responsibly and sustainably sourced paper products can help reduce deforestation, protect wildlife habitats, old growth forests (which are also natural carbon sinks), wildlife habitats, and encourage the continuation of healthy ecosystems. Relevant certifications include the Forest Stewardship Council and the Rainforest Alliance.

  • Buy Chlorine Free: The use of chlorine-based bleaches results in toxic emissions to air, water, and soil. It also causes the formation of chlorinated organic compounds, such as dioxins and furans, which can have biochemical and biological effects in animals and humans. As noted by Green Seal, a third party environmental certifier:

    “Use of chlorine and/or chlorine-containing compounds in papermaking can result in the formation of dioxins, furans and other chlorinated organics that typically pass through a wastewater treatment plant and end up accumulating in the environment in the fat tissue of animals and humans. These compounds have been linked to adverse health effects including cancer and toxicity to reproductive, immunologic, and endocrine systems.”

  • Reduce Excess Consumption: Paper can only be recycled a handful of times before the fibers become too weak to produce high quality products. As a result, paper products usually end their lifecycle as waste sludge. Paper production and recycling processes are also polluting as well as energy and water intensive. Thus, it is important to reduce excess paper consumption whenever possible – whether that means using scrap paper for notes, printing double sided or going digital.​​

Toner and Ink Cartridges​
Cartridges are easily remanufactured and almost 100% recyclable. As a result, toner and ink cartridges have had a high secondary market value for over a decade.
 
When procuring toner and ink cartridges, remember to:
  • Buy Remanufactured: These cartridges offer equivalent quality and performance when compared to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards and nearly all suppliers will guarantee the quality of their remanufactured cartridges. Remanufacturing is the process of disassembling a cartridge after first use. After the inspection of key parts (such as the drum, wire assembly and roller), worn or defective parts are replaced and the cartridge is cleaned, refilled, reassembled, tested and packaged for redistribution. 

  • Buy High-Yield: Also known as "large capacity," high yield and extra high yield cartridges are often more cost-effective and contain two to three times more toner or ink than their conventional counterparts. 

  • Optimize Efficiency: Wherever possible, eliminate the use of personal “convenience” desktop printers and connect users to central multi-function devices. When procuring print services or leasing multi-function devices, require vendors to include toner, ink and other replacement parts in their base service provision. The vendor will likely use the most efficient equipment available.

  • Have an End-of-Life Plan: Require the vendor to recycle or remanufacture consumables at the end-of-life to minimize environmental impacts.

Writing Instruments
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters and markers are not accepted in many recycling programs. 
  • Plastic pens and markers are usually composed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is produced from vinyl chloride monomer, a potent human carcinogen, that contains stabilizers, such as lead, and plasticizers (usually phthalates) that may be released into the indoor environment. 
  • Markers, highlighters and correction fluid may off-gas and/or contain organic solvents such as xylene, ketone, or alcohol. 

When purchasing writing instruments, choose: 
  • biodegradable 
  • recycled 
  • refillable/reusable 
  • water-based, non-toxic, low-odor inks