Recycled Paper & Purchasing Policy

Adopted in 2007


Middlebury College has adopted a general policy of environmental stewardship and mindfulness which applies to its operations and the practices of its employees and their departments (Trustees, 1995). As an extension of this, the Environmental Council will work toward developing a policy on environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) to unify existing efforts, take new steps, and codify a commitment to the purchase and use of environmentally preferred products and technologies.  Since extensive research and testing have been done surrounding the issue of paper, it is time to put forth a Paper Purchasing Policy.  This can then also serve as a model component of the larger EPP policy.  

The College is concerned about two important issues related to paper usage and purchasing: 1) minimizing the amount of paper consumed by students, staff and faculty; and 2) using paper that is manufactured with practices that minimize the consumption of forest resources and ecosystem services.  It is concerned about this for several reasons:

  • Industrialized nations with 20% of the world’s population, consume 87% of the world’s printing and writing papers.
  • Global production in the pulp, paper and publishing sector is projected to increase by 77% from 1995 to 2020.
  • Paper manufacturing is the 4th largest source of the type of air pollutants that contribute to respiratory problems.
  • Among the pollutants released by paper manufacture are large quantities of “conventional” pollutants like suspended solids and oxygen-depleting substances, which can harm or kill fish and other aquatic organisms.
  • Mills that use chlorine or chlorine-containing compounds to bleach pulp release chlorinated organic by–products, which may include dioxins and furans.

Further, the below table details the environmental benefits that can be realized from switching from 30% recycled paper (currently in use) to 100% recycled paper based on the College’s current average monthly use of 200 cases / 5 tons of paper:

30% Recycled Paper

100% Recycled Paper

Trees Saved 36 trees

120 trees
35,000 gallons
20,500 kW hours
300 pounds
Water Saved 10,500 gallons

35,000 gallons

Electricity Saved 6150 kW hours

20,500 kW hours

Air Pollution Averted 90 pounds 300 pounds

The benefits illustrated in the above table can be realized with minimal financial impact.  At the time of writing this policy, The Middlebury College Procurement office was able to obtain a case of 100% recycled paper for $31.56 a case as compared to $31.08 a case for 30% recycled paper, a difference of only $0.48 / case.

Policy Statement

This policy focuses on the type of paper used, both for on-campus uses and out-sourced jobs.  Paper use reduction is being focused on as a separate initiative through Library and Information Services.

  • For paper used in College offices, in copy machines campus-wide, in student computing laboratories and for College stationery and letterhead papers, the paper shall be:
    • Labeled Process Chlorine Free (PCF - not bleached with chlorine and chlorine derivatives).
    • 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper (PCW) and/or paper made without trees, OR Forest Stewardship Council certified 100% PCW if the cost is within acceptable range.
  • For paper used for outsourced jobs that use sheet-fed printing (e.g. the College Viewbook, Center for the Arts Calendar, Breadloaf materials, etc.), the paper shall be:
    • Labeled Process Chlorine Free (PCF - not bleached with chlorine and chlorine derivatives).
    • 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper (PCW) and/or paper made without trees, OR Forest Stewardship Council certified 100% PCW if the cost is within acceptable range.
  • For paper used for outsourced jobs that use web-fed printing (e.g. the Middlebury Magazine), the paper shall be:
    • The highest percentage PCW suitable for the job.  Currently this is 10%, and hopefully this will increase to 30% or more as the technology improves.
  • At this time, colored copy papers are only available with a maximum of 30% PCW.  This paper will become the standard for all colored copy papers used on campus.
  • Some specialty papers, including colored paper, will continue to be available through Reprographics , the Bookstore and Purchasing.  The highest available recycled content for these specialty papers will become the standard.
  • When purchasing paper that must be virgin stock, the College will only accept papers with Forest Stewardship Council certification.  Other certifications will be considered on a case by case basis.

Much of this work is already underway—for example, the College letterhead is already 100% PCW/PCF and the College Viewbook and the Center for the Arts Calendar are already printed on 100% PCW/PCF paper.


When purchasing paper the College will consider these factors:

  • Environmental sustainability as outlined in the policy statement.
  • Economic sustainability. We recognize that cost is an important factor.  To mitigate the potential cost increase associated with the changes outlined in this policy statement, opportunities include:
    • Reducing waste – as of the last study conducted by Library and Information Services, approximately 25% of paper printed out in the library resulted in waste.  From our current usage level (including this waste), a decrease in usage of only 1.5% is needed to cover the cost of switching to 100% PCW.
    • Reducing the number of pages in a job.
    • Reducing the number of copies in a job.
    • Consider what materials currently in print could be made available electronically.
    • Consider intended audience when evaluating whether print or electronic versions of material are appropriate – e.g. a student audience will likely be reached most effectively electronically.
    • Experiment with bundling multiple outsourced jobs into one proposal for the competitive bidding process to see if costs can be lowered through increased volume of work for the winning bid.
  • Supply sustainability
    • Stock will be readily and consistently available from a local supplier.
  • Technological sustainability
    • The paper will work effectively in copy machines, printers and fax machines.

Review Committee

A committee will be composed of one representative each from Reprographics, the Bookstore, Library Information Services, Purchasing, and Communications, as well as one faculty member and at least one student.  The committee will maintain a current list of paper options and prices, and will test potential papers. They will also research the current recycled content of “specialty papers” (e.g. poster plotter paper, cardstocks, and color printer paper), and suggest/test higher recycled content options where appropriate.  The committee will notify the Middlebury community on a regular basis, providing a summary of new paper selections. This notification will include an educational component so that campus awareness will not diminish over time.

The committee will:

  • Report to the Environmental Council.  The vice-chair of Environmental Council will be responsible for convening meetings and providing support for committee work.
  • Be responsible for selecting a chairperson from within its membership.
  • Meet semiannually to select paper and to establish standards and working procedures for the testing and selection processes.
Committee membership:
  • Annually the SGA will select the student representative/s.
  • The Environmental Council will assist in the selection of a faculty representative, though the faculty representative need not be a member of the council.
  • Representatives from the above mentioned College offices will serve a minimum two-year term, but may stay on the committee as long as they desire.  The individual College offices will be responsible for appointing representatives and replacements.

Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest

531 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753