Sustainable Purchasing Policy

Rollins College

Sustainable Purchasing Policy


Purpose and Scope

The purpose of this policy is to identify practices, guidelines, and policies that support campus sustainability at Rollins.  Purchasing decisions should be made that embody the College’s commitment to sustainability, based on a balance between economic, social, and environmental factors.  Best practices in sustainable procurement are those that utilize leading edge sustainability factors, standards, and procedures in an efficient and effective way that are successful and replicable. This policy provides guidelines, information, and resources for sustainable purchasing practices.


Guidelines for Sustainable Purchasing

We strive to balance practices that are at the same time environmentally sound and fiscally responsible. When making purchasing decisions, we will evaulate purchased goods/materials that are:

  • Durable, not single use or disposable
  • Made from recycled material that can be reused or recycled
  • Biodegradable/compostable
  • Produced or grown locally
  • Lease or rent equipment when appropriate
  • Fair Trade Certified – developing bid specifications, market basket lists, and discount lists requiring vendors to offer certified fair trade products when applicable
  • Purchase goods containing fewer toxic constituents, preferable Green Seal or EcoLogo certified
  • Reduce paper use; set copiers and printers to duplex mode if available and appropriate
  • Energy efficient and Energy Start rated
  • Non-Toxic or minimally toxic
  • Shipped with minimal packaging, preferable made of recycled and or recyclable materials
  • Water efficient
  • Carcinogen free
  • Used – check Campus surplus first!


Examples of environmentally preferred products:

  • Post-consumer waste recycled paper and paper products
  • Remanufactured laser printer toner cartridges
  • Energy Star Rated computers and appliances
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Re-refined lubrication, hydraulic oils, and antifreeze
  • Recycled plastic outdoor-wood substitutes including plastic lumber, benches, fencing, signs and posts
  • Recycled content construction, building and maintenance products, including plastic lumber, carpet, tiles and insulation
  • Re-crushed cement concrete aggregate and asphalt
  • Cement and asphalt concrete containing glass cullet, recycled fiber, plastic, tire rubber, or fly ash
  • Compost, mulch, and other organics including recycled biosolid products
  • Re-manufactured and/or low or VOC-free paint
  • Fair Trade certified food commodities such as coffee, tea, sugar and cocoa, [grown with sustainable soil and water use methods]
  • Cleaning products with lowered toxicity
  • Energy saving products
  • Waste-reducing products
  • Water-saving products


 Sustainable Purchasing Checklist

  • (Change arrows to checkboxes)Does this product/item/material exist on campus and can it be borrowed instead of purchased?
  • Can this order be combined with another order to reduce shipping and handling costs and/or to reduce packaging?
  • Is this product available from local (within 200 miles) vendors?
  • Will this product be able to be used by other departments/groups/individuals on campus, thus reducing their need to duplicate purchases?
  • Is this product ENERGY STAR rated (if applicable)?
  • Is this product produced by companies and suppliers with good environmental track records that have independent third-party verification?
  • Is this product certified Fair Trade, an economically and environmentally sound purchase?
  • Does the supplier/company offer annual corporate, social, ethical and environmental reports and other supporting documentation?
  • Is this product durable and/or reusable?
  • Is the product made from raw materials obtained in an environmentally sound, sustainable manner?
  • Is the product made of recycled materials?
  • Is the product shipped using minimal packaging (consistent with care of the product), preferably made of recycled and/or recyclable materials?
  • Is the product recyclable but if not recyclable can be disposed of safely?
  • Is the product and/or its packaging biodegradable or compostable?
  • Is the product non-toxic or minimally toxic (including low or no Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs)?
  • Is the product heavy metal free (e.g., no lead, mercury, cadmium)?
  • Is the product water efficient (if applicable) which means that it uses at least 20% less than comparable products and has the EPAs WaterSense label?
  • Does this product have educational materials, such as signage, that can be displayed where the product is used?


Unless unfeasible, Rollins College shall buy sustainable products with these labels and certifications:


 Sustainable Purchasing Definitions

Environmentally Preferable Products are products that have a lesser impact on human health and the environment when compared with competing products. This comparison may consider raw materials acquisition, production, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, reuse, operation, maintenance, or disposal of the product.

Green Purchasing -purchasers take into consideration the environmental impact of products when making purchasing decisions, giving preference to more environmentally friendly products.  This can involve developing bid language, specifications, market basket or “core” lists, or vendor evaluation processes that reflect green purchasing goals.

Fair Trade - Fair Trade offers producers fair prices and wages and promotes and enhances environmental sustainability, as well as improved social services and improved local infrastructure.

Recycled Products are products manufactured with waste material that has been recovered or diverted from solid waste. Recycled material may be derived from post-consumer waste (material that has served its intended end-use and been discarded by a final consumer), industrial scrap, manufacturing waste, or other waste that would otherwise have been wasted.

Sustainability- meeting today's needs without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their needs.

Waste Prevention - any action undertaken by an individual or organization to eliminate or reduce the amount or toxicity of materials before they enter the municipal solid waste stream. This action is intended to conserve resources, promote efficiency, and reduce pollution.

Reuse - repairing what is broken or giving it to someone who can repair it or use it in its current state.

Reduce - using less of products and utilizing other means of doing business when available to reduce the amount and toxicity of trash discarded.

Recycle - to reprocess and reuse used material.

Life Cycle Evaluation is an evaluation of the major environmental impacts in each life-cycle stage of a product category including resource extraction, production, distribution, use, and eventual disposal or recycling. The evaluation considers energy, resource use, and emissions to air, water, and land, as well as other environmental and health impacts. The purpose of this evaluation is to identify significant life-cycle stages to be addressed.

Rechargeable - to replenish the amount of electric power in something, especially a battery.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) - vendors taking on the responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products through the entire product's life cycle; especially the take-back, recycle, and disposal programs.

Leasing - a legal rental contract allowing somebody exclusive possession of another's property for a specific time in return for a payment.

Certification - an official document or seal providing evidence and details of something that is authentic and verified by a third party.
Cradle-to-Cradle - a way of redesigning products so that waste is eliminated, rather than sent to a landfill. Cradle-to-cradle mimics nature in that “waste becomes food”, i.e. decomposing leaves become soil for future food production.

Deconstructable - products that can be taken apart and their components reused or recycled to create new products.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) - how much a product or service costs over its entire life cycle, taking into account not only upfront price but costs due to maintenance, transportation, staffing, training and waste disposal. TCO often reveals that sustainable products and services that are more costly upfront are cheaper over the product’s life cycle.

Life Cycle - a product’s life from beginning to end, including: resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, maintenance, recycling and waste disposal

Socially Responsible/Ethical Purchasing Standards

Rollins demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and seeks to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for the people who make products for Rollins College. Rollins is an affiliate of the Worker Rights Consortium ( The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) is an independent labor rights monitoring organization, conducting investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe. Their purpose is to combat sweatshops and protect the rights of workers who make apparel and other products.

Many goods purchased by the College are sourced from outside the United States. Imported goods produced in a manner detrimental to the environment and/or to workers may cause social and environmental harm capable of regional or global impact.

Throughout the world, many laborers work under poor conditions for meager wages. Small farmers are often vulnerable to volatile market pricing and, due to long supply chains, receive prices below costs of production, which creates a cycle of debt and environmental degradation.

The WRC conducts independent, in-depth investigations; issues public reports on factories producing for major brands; and aids workers at these factories in their efforts to end labor abuses and defend their workplace rights. The WRC has the support of over 175 college and university affiliates and its primary focus is the labor practices of factories that make university-related apparel.

Purchasers should strive to ensure that the products they purchase meet International Labor Organization (ILO) manufacturing standards and are Fair Trade certified.  The College recognizes that its purchasing decisions can benefit or protect the environment and workers around the world. In its role as a market participant, the College seeks to direct its procurement toward products made fairly and sustainably.