A student poses in a recycling t-shirt to promote paper recycling.

In 2007, Middlebury’s Environmental Council developed a policy on environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) and technologies to unify sustainability efforts.

Because extensive research and testing has been done surrounding the issue of paper, the Paper Purchasing Policy serves as a model component of the larger EPP policy.

The policy covers all paper used on campus the bulk of which is that used in printers and copiers. The policy requires the use of 100% recycled content, chlorine free paper for those devices. Details about other kinds of paper usage are provided below.


Middlebury is concerned about two important issues related to paper usage and purchasing:

  • Minimizing the amount of paper consumed by students, staff, and faculty
  • Using paper that is manufactured with practices that minimize the consumption of forest resources and ecosystem services.

This is for several reasons:

  • Paper manufacturing is the fourth-largest source of the type of air pollutants that contribute to respiratory problems.
  • Industrialized nations with 20 percent of the world’s population consume 87 percent of the world’s printing and writing papers.
  • Among the pollutants released by paper manufacturing 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.

Environmental Benefits

By switching from 30 percent recycled paper to 100 percent recycled paper and based on the College’s current average monthly use of 200 cases/5 tons of paper, here are the projected environmental benefits:

  30 Percent Recycled Paper 100 Percent Recycled Paper
Trees Saved 36 trees 120 trees
Water Saved 10,500 gallons 35,000 gallons
Electricity Saved 6150 kW hours 20,500 kW hours
Air Pollution Averted 90 pounds 300 pounds

This change also has minimal financial impact: At the time of writing this policy, the Middlebury College procurement office was able to obtain a case of 100 percent recycled paper for only $0.48/case more than a case of 30 percent recycled paper.

Policy Statement

This policy focuses on the type of paper used, both for on-campus uses and outsourced jobs.

  • For paper used in College offices, in copy machines campuswide, 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 percent postconsumer waste recycled paper (PCW) and/or paper made without trees, OR Forest Stewardship Council-certified 100 percent 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, Bread Loaf materials, etc.), the paper shall be
    • Labeled Process Chlorine Free (PCF—not bleached with chlorine and chlorine derivatives).
    • 100 percent postconsumer waste recycled paper (PCW) and/or paper made without trees, OR Forest Stewardship Council-certified 100 percent PCW if the cost is within acceptable range.
  • For paper used for outsourced jobs that use web-fed printing (e.g., Middlebury Magazine), the paper shall be
    • The highest percentage PCW suitable for the job. Currently this is 10 percent, and hopefully this will increase to 30 percent or more as the technology improves.
  • At this time, colored copy papers are only available with a maximum of 30 percent 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.


When purchasing paper Middlebury considers the following:

  • 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, the following actions can be taken:
    • Reducing waste—as of the last study conducted by Library and Information Services, approximately 25 percent 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 percent is needed to cover the cost of switching to 100 percent PCW.
    • Two-sided printing and copying.
    • Considering what materials currently in print could be made available electronically.
    • Considering the 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.
    • Experimenting 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 is 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 maintains a current list of paper options and prices, and will test potential papers. They 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 notifies 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.

Committee Responsibilities

  • Report to the Environmental Council. The vice-chair of Environmental Council will be responsible for convening meetings and providing support for committee work.
  • Select 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

  • The SGA will select the student representative/s annually.
  • The Environmental Council will assist in the selection of a faculty representative, though the faculty representative need not be a member of the council.
  • The 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.