Sustainable Purchasing

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Sustainable Procurement is a process whereby organizations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole life basis in terms of generating benefits not only to the organization, but also to society and the economy, whilst minimizing damage to the environment. [1]

[1] Definition adopted by the Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement led by Switzerland (membership includes Switzerland, USA, UK, Norway, Philippines, Argentina, Ghana, Mexico, China, Czech Republic, State of Sao Paolo (Brazil), UNEP, IISD, International Labor Organization (ILO), European Commission (DG-Environment) and International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and adopted in the context of the Marrakech Process on Sustainable Production and consumption led by UNEP and UN DESA.

Why Sustainable Procurement at IU?

As we face global issues in economy, energy, climate change, equity, water and food, it is time that Indiana University, as a leading institute of higher education, move towards sustainability. The Indiana University Purchasing Department has been encouraging “green” purchasing over the years. Efforts are made in the areas of papers, cleaning products, furniture, carpets, and some food items, among others. It is a step-by-step progress towards moving Indiana University towards a sustainable campus.

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University Sustainability

Indiana University is dedicated to advancing a culture of sustainability on our campuses, in our communities, across the nation, and throughout the world. The Office of Sustainability details projects and programs taking place on IU campuses.

Additional Campus Resources



Sustainable Purchasing at IU


The Architects Office currently uses Green Seal certified carpet when new carpeting needs to be applied in academic buildings. In addition, carpet still in use in academic buildings that is not Green Seal certified is recycled after replacement through a contract with Interface.

Ceiling Tiles

Indiana University has a contract with USG that allows Indiana University to recycle old ceiling tiles that have been replaced. Indiana University palletizes the old ceiling tiles, USG then sends a truck to pick up the pallets at no cost, and then USG recycles the old tiles back in to production. The only cost to Indiana University is to palletize the tiles.


The Food Working Group draws on a sustainability assessment of all food products purchased by the University. At the 1st IU Food Summit in November 2013, a diverse group of stakeholders agreed to use the Real Food Challenge framework for this sustainability assessment. A course was created in the IU Geography department to perform this assessment every semester, and the results inform the purchasing decisions of IUB's food providers: IU Dining and Catering and IU Athletics Dining. The Real Food Challenge results are compatible with the Sustainability Tracking And Reporting Systems (STARS) of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). For more Information, please visit the IU Office of Sustainability website.

Floor Care Products

The Indiana Memorial Union on the Bloomington campus no longer cleans and polishes it floor using wax products, but rather polishes them using grain stone disks. This has eliminated the need to purchase certain cleaning products. In those instances where floor cleaning products are needed, the Indiana Memorial Union purchases products, which are water based and have low or no levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's).

The Building Services division (Bloomington Campus) also purchases green floor cleaning products, as they contain low-zinc amounts and are packaged in recycled material.

Lawn Care

The Architects Office uses mulch that is shredded native hardwood bark and must contain a minimum of 25% organic material. The Architects Office has also taken steps to eliminate products that use rainforest wood (i.e. teak or mahogany) or other products from our university site and landscape standards. Additionally, the Physical Plants Campus Division also uses hardwood bark mulch and organic fertilizers in certain instances.


The Architects Office, Residential and Program Services, the Indiana Memorial Union, and Building Services all utilize compact fluorescent lighting where possible. In certain instances, incandescent lighting is used to maintain the ambience of certain rooms or because compact fluorescent bulbs are not made for those specifications, specifically within the Indiana Memorial Union. Furthermore, compact fluorescent lighting that is certified by Green Seal is being utilized, as they contain low mercury levels and can disposed of like a typical incandescent lights instead of being disposed of by specialty recycling.


Over 50% of the paper that Indiana University - Bloomington uses is recycled paper. The Indiana University - Bloomington letterhead is made of 15% post-consumer recycled paper. Printing Services is the largest generator of good recyclable paper on campus.

Toner Cartridges

Indiana University has toner cartridge recycling contracts with Cannon IV, Lasertech, A+ Service Solutions, Cartridge World, and Freedom Business Solutions. Indiana University has the option of purchasing new or reused cartridges. With Lasertech, A+ Service Solutions, Cartridge World, and Freedom Business Solutions, when a department has used a significant amount of cartridges, the vendor will come directly to the department and pick up the used cartridges. Cannon IV sends a prepaid box to the department so that all they have to do is put the used cartridges in the box.

Soy Ink

Soy Print (PRC Technologies) offers an alternative to oil based toner with their soy based toner. Indiana University has negotiated an agreement with Soy Print so that the printer and toner are properly warranted by Soy Print.

We have verified that the following vendors offer printing with soy ink (this list may not be exhaustive):

  • Metropolitan Printing
  • World Arts
  • Partners Printing
  • Rainbow Printing
  • Spectrum Press
  • SPG Graphics
  • Graessle-Mercer Co.
  • IU Printing Service


The Indiana University Motor Pool and IUPUI Motor Pool both currently utilizes one Toyota Prius in its fleet, which gets on average 60 MPG. In addition, all campus buses on the Bloomington Campus utilize a biodiesel fuel mix, called B20, which contains 20% soy biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel.

The Indiana University Motor Pool also recycles oil, antifreeze, and tires. They store the oil in a 500-gallon tank at the facility. When it is full, Crystal Clean comes and pumps out the oil from the tank. The tires are recycled by High-speed, $2 for small tires and $3 for larger tires. All underground tanks at the Motor Pool are double-walled and monitored for leaks at all times.

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State Resources

The Office of Procurement Services utilizes the following state resources to guide sustainable purchasing decisions:

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International Organizations

Learn more about efforts to support sustainable procurement throughout the world:

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Look for these Labels

The Office of Procurement Services recommends buying sustainable products with these labels and certifications:

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