Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

Colgate University Sustainable Guidelines

As a Colgate University buyer, you are entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility to be good stewards of university funds. Additionally, supporting Colgate's longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability and carbon neutrality. These guidelines will help ensure that the goods and services that you purchase balance cost and quality while exerting a positive influence on our environment, human health and well-being. Environmentally Preferable Purchasing results in procurement decisions that do not result in permanent damage or depletion of natural resources or human communities.

Each purchasing decision presents an opportunity for Colgate community member to choose environmentally preferable products and services products and services from vendors that support and are committed to environmental sustainability. The purchasing decisions you make can help support a more just and sustainable world and working environment.


product is capable of breaking down into natural elements like soil in a composting environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil.

 marks placed on product packaging or in e-catalogs that can help consumers and institutional purchasers quickly and easily identify those products that meet specific environmental performance criteria and are therefore deemed “environmentally preferable”.

third-party registry that certifies IT equipment including computers, monitors, printers, televisions, servers, and cell phones among others. EPEAT helps consumers purchase environmentally preferable electronic products. In order to be EPEAT-registered, a manufacturer must prove that its product meets a host of life-cycle environmental performance criteria from extraction and selection of raw materials through the design and manufacturing process, and eventually through energy-efficient performance and end-of-life management.  Over 95 percent of all computer and IT purchases at Colgate are EPEAT registered.  

government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions.  

procurement of goods and services that reduce resource consumption and pollution while promoting environmental and human health when compared with similar products that serve the same purpose.  Products or materials that are environmentally preferable may include third-party certified products such as Energy Star®, Fair Trade, USDA Organic, EPEAT, or any other reputable eco-label.  

certified products meet rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards that ensure safe working conditions, environmental protection, and fair and sustainable wages. Colgate encourages buyers to purchase Fair Trade coffee, tea, and other items when appropriate.

a method for assessing the total cost of ownership.  LCCA takes into account all associated costs of acquiring, owning, and disposing of a product or system.

new products made from old products that had a useful purpose.  Examples include the recycling of aluminum cans, paper and magazines, and glass plastic bottles that can be used, recycled at end of life, and made into new products. Products with post-consumer recycled content are considered to have greater environmental benefits than products manufactured from pre-consumer recycled content. When given a choice, Colgate buyers should purchase paper, plastics, and other items with post-consumer recycled content. 

to treat or process used or waste materials so as to make them suitable for reuse.

procurement practices that reduce waste, pollution, and environmental degradation while supporting human health and vibrant communities.

foods and farms cannot use most synthetic or petroleum-derived pesticides and fertilizers, any irradiation, or sewage sludge. No genetic engineering is allowed. Organic farmers use crop rotation, tilling and natural fertilizers, such as compost.


  1. Colgate University buyers should purchase Environmentally Preferable Products (including services) whenever they are similar quality, cost, and perform at satisfactory level always taking into account Life Cycle Cost. 
  2. Colgate buyers should purchase products and services that are third-party certified or exceed environmental standards and specifications.  Ecolabels, for example, help Colgate buyers identify and procure environmentally sustainable products and services that meet or exceed the university's sustainability goals and values. Sectors that offer sustainable third-party certified (ecolabels) products and standards include food service take-out containers and dinnerware, building and construction materials, custodial cleaners and disinfectants, computers and electronic equipment, landscaping fertilizers/pesticides and deicing treatments, office supplies and furniture, just to name a few examples
  3. Colgate University’s Purchasing Department and Office of Sustainability will promote the use of Environmentally Preferable Products and services by working with office suppliers, food and dining service providers, transportation providers, contractors, and all other vendors to ensure that they offer quality sustainable products and practices and communicate those options to all Colgate buyers in order to facilitate Environmentally Preferable Purchasing.
  4. Colgate's Purchasing Department prefers to secure contracts with suppliers and vendors that are environmental leaders in their respective markets.

A few examples of Environmentally Preferable Products and Services at Colgate include

the university’s preference to purchase containers and dinnerware that are reusable and made with recyclable, compostable, and/or bio-benign (plant-based) materials.  If disposable items must be used, then the material should also be recyclable, compostable, and/or made with bio-benign (plant-based) materials.

the university recommends using filtered water fountains or stations rather than purchasing disposable bottled water.

the university standard is to purchase Energy Star and/or EPEAT-registered computers and other electronics.

whenever documents or information cannot be shared online or in digital format, the university recommends the purchase and use of post-consumer content recycled paper and/or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper.  Printing should be avoided whenever possible and non-recycled (virgin) paper is discouraged. 


Colgate University shall advance environmentally sustainable purchasing by following these guidelines and ensuring that Colgate’s supply of products and acquisition of services (including construction) are:

  • Energy-efficient (ENERGY STAR® or Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)-designated);
  • Water-efficient;
  • Bio-based or plant-based;
  • Environmentally preferable (e.g., EPEAT®-registered, or non-toxic or less toxic alternatives);
  • Non-ozone depleting; or
  • Made with post-consumer recycled materials.


Colgate University implemented environmental management systems (EMS) at appropriate organizational levels. Please send questions to purchasing@colgate.edu or sustainable@colgate.edu for general advice and recommendations to support your purchasing decision-making.