Procurement and Sustainability Policy

At Colgate we believe you should consider the environmental impact of procurement decisions, promote the use of sustainable products when acceptable, and encourage and monitor environmental practices of contracted vendors.

Procurement and Sustainability Policy, Action and Objectives

The goods and services that Colgate purchases on an annual basis have both environmental and social impacts and we recognize that we can use our purchasing power to support a sustainable economy. Each purchasing decision presents an opportunity for Colgate community members to choose environmentally preferable products and services from companies that support sustainability.

Current practices and recent accomplishments:

  • Colgate's Environmental Services Department uses cleaning products that are Green Seal certified to meet GS-37 standards. We also have floor and hand-held machines which use ionized water to clean surfaces which have also been independently evaluated in their effectiveness. These products and practices provide a sanitary environment for our faculty, staff, and students while providing for a safer work environment for our employees.
  • Colgate has an institution-wide preference to purchase EPA Energy Star appliances and standard desktop computers and monitors.
  • Colgate has reduced its consumption of paper by 4.3 million sheets in one year (from 12.8 million sheets in 2009 down to 8.5 million sheets in 2010).
  • Colgate has an institution-wide preference to purchase recycled content office paper. In 2010, 75% of Colgate's paper purchases were from recycled content.  This is up from 65% in 2009.  To achieve this, Colgate reduced its consumption of non-recycled paper by 2.5 million sheets (from 4.6 million in 2009 to 2.1 million in 2010).

Create an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy

Colgate will take proactive measures to reduce the negative environmental and social impacts of its purchasing decisions by creating and implementing a set of guidelines or directives for employees that promote sustainable purchasing on campus. Moreover, by specifying in our Terms and Conditions purchasing guidelines that Colgate will consider the amount of packaging when making purchasing decisions, the university can communicate to its suppliers our goal of reducing waste on campus. Through working with our major vendors/suppliers, we can reduce the amount of packaging and materials that enter the university in the first place.


  • By 2013, Colgate has in place an environmentally preferable purchasing policy that encourages employees to consider the environmental and social impacts of our purchasing decisions.

Create a Vendor Code of Conduct

By creating a vendor code of conduct, Colgate sets expectations that our vendors are to meet minimum standards of environmental and social responsibility. The goal is to influence and improve the sustainability of our supply chain. Besides our major office supply companies, shipping companies, and other retailers, this includes contractors and construction service companies who perform work on campus.


  • By 2013, Colgate has in place a vendor code of conduct that sets expectations that our vendors are to meet minimum standards of environmental and social responsibility.

Purchasing Preferences for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Certified Computers and Monitors on Campus

EPEAT is a system that helps purchasers evaluate, compare, and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes, e.g., waste minimization, high recycled content, environmentally responsible production methods, and demonstrable maximum durability or biodegradability, reparability, energy efficiency, and non-toxicity. The EPEAT system currently covers desktop and laptop computers, thin clients, workstations, and computer monitors. Desktops, laptops, and monitors that meet 23 required environmental performance criteria may be registered in EPEAT by their manufacturers in 40 countries worldwide. Registered products are rated Gold, Silver, or Bronze depending on the percentage of 28 optional criteria they meet above the baseline criteria. Currently, over 1,600 products have been certified through the EPEAT system. 


  • By 2013, Colgate has in place an EPEAT preferred purchasing guideline and the campus standard is to purchase EPEAT-qualified computers and monitors.

Metrics and timeline:

  • By 2015, 50% of Colgate's computers and monitors will be EPEAT-certified models.

Recommended action

  • Inventory current models of computers and monitors to evaluate those that meet EPEAT certification.  
  • Identify a few applications on campus where EPEAT-certified products make good sense (high-performing models; affordable pricing) and purchase those items as the campus standard.

Implement a $50 Minimum for Department Orders from Staples and Office Max

Increasing the minimum departmental purchase order from the current $35 to $50 would result in significantly fewer deliveries to campus. In 2010, Colgate administrative staff placed over 440 orders to Staples that were under $50. This strategy would reduce the number of vehicle trips to campus from our suppliers thus reducing congestion, cost, and emissions associated with fuel use. This strategy would also result in combined orders which could have a modest reduction in the amount of packaging that enters campus. We conservatively estimate a 1% reduction (8 tons) in annual landfill waste from our 2009 baseline year and save $500 in tipping fees.

Recycled Paper Purchasing Policy (Eliminate the Use of Non-recycled Paper on Campus)

In FY 2010, Colgate purchased 880 cartons of 30% recycled content paper, 421 cartons of 100% recycled content paper, 404 cartons of virgin paper (non-recycled), and 36 cartons of 50% recycled paper. This project proposes a policy that eliminates the purchase of non-recycled paper on campus. We assume that people who purchased non-recycled paper in 2010 would switch to 30% recycled paper from Office Max in 2011. Because 30% recycled paper is $3.04 cheaper per carton and is a lower emissions factor than non-recycled paper, Colgate would save $3,836 and reduce our carbon footprint by nearly 3 MTeCO2 if we implemented this policy. Furthermore, these figures assume 2009-2010 consumption habits; if adjusted for the exceptionally large freshman class, Colgate could realize even greater environmental and fiscal savings.


  • By 2012, Colgate establishes a new paper purchasing policy that eliminates the purchase of non-recycled paper.

Metrics and timeline:

  • Save $3,800 in paper purchasing due to more cost-competitive pricing of 30% recycled paper over non-recycled paper.
  • Reduce Colgate's carbon footprint by three MTeCO2 in 2012 compared to 2009 baseline due to eliminating the purchase of non-recycled paper.

Increase Multi-functional Printer/Copier/Fax Devices as Campus Standard

Replacing stand alone printers, copiers, and fax machines with multi-functional devices (MFDs) can save space, cost in maintenance and repairs, and energy consumption. Additionally, research is demonstrating that MFDs can speed office workflow, increase efficiency, cut costs, and aid productivity. Currently, Colgate has very few MFDs on campus.


  • By 2013, Colgate establishes new standard of replacing stand alone devices with MFDs in campus work areas.

Metrics and timeline:

  • By 2015, Colgate replaces stand alone devices with MFDs in 50% of the campus's work areas.

Recommended action

  • Complete assessment of current infrastructure and propose new layout that includes MFDs.

Purchase items/products with packaging/materials that can be recycled, made of post-consumer content, or are environmentally benign

Through working with our major vendors/suppliers we can influence the type of packaging and materials that enter the university. This strategy would have important environmental benefits. Materials and packaging that can be recycled use less overall energy and less extraction of finite resources. Additionally, items made from plant-based materials (e.g., "green" packaging peanuts which are starch-based and biodegradable in water or a compost setting) avoid the harsh and persistent toxins found in plastics and Styrofoam and are now widely available. Influencing Colgate’s supply chain can be challenging. However, as the “green” movement continues to progress, many of our suppliers are already moving in this direction.  Much of the time and energy needed to make this initiative successful would fall in the lap of Colgate’s Director of Purchasing in collaboration with the campus Sustainability Coordinator. Administrative Assistants would also need to be made aware of opportunities and alternative choices.


  • In 2012, Colgate continues dialogue with major suppliers expressing our preference to purchase items/products with environmentally conscious packaging.