Purdue University purchases roughly $200 million worth of goods annually, 80 percent of which are items that cost less than one thousand dollars, such as grounds maintenance tools and supplies for laboratories and offices. The campus’s main office supplier is Guy Brown Products, a certified Minority Business Enterprise. Most purchasing transactions are executed through an electronic procurement system that lists the environmental benefits of some products, but does not have a comprehensive identification system or product comparison tool to facilitate sustainable purchasing.
It is difficult to assess environmentally preferable procurement activities at Purdue without a robust system for tracking and reporting purchases. For example, custodial paper products including toilet paper and paper towels typically contain between 70 and 100 percent recycled content. Many departments regularly or exclusively purchase 30 percent recycled content office paper. About half of the campus uses Green Seal certified cleaning chemicals. Unfortunately, these achievements cannot be verified or quantified in the absence of established reporting protocol. Furthermore, tracking sustainable purchases with accuracy and consistency is dependent upon the use of a shared definition of "sustainable" for each product category. Consequently, adopting comprehensive purchasing guidelines is a central goal for the Materials Management program area.
Purdue’s performance in recycling and waste management is somewhat simpler to track and quantify than sustainable purchasing. In fiscal year 2008/09, the university diverted 48 percent of its solid waste from landfill disposal, excluding construction and demolition materials. Purdue raised that number to 56.7% in the 2013-2014 year. New and improved recycling programs are being tested and implemented to raise the diversion rate, and the campus is recruiting participation from new stakeholder groups. A highlight from this effort is the implementation of recycling at Ross-Ade Stadium for the first time in Purdue history. Spearheaded by the student group Boiler Green Initiative, the program diverted nearly 24 tons from landfill over the 2009 football season.
A new dual-stream recycling program is being rolled out to campus offices to encourage behavior change and boost waste diversion rates. The new desk-side recycling bin features a large bin for mixed recyclables including cans, bottles and cardboard and a smaller hanging bin for office paper. This setup is a simple way to isolate office paper — which has a resale price substantial enough to generate a revenue stream for the university — from all other recyclable materials. To encourage recycling habits further, the new bins replace the existing desk side trashcans. All personal trash is instead deposited in centralized trash containers located in common areas, which is intended to promote behavior that simultaneously raises awareness of materials flows and Purdue’s recycling rate. This program was piloted in ten buildings in 2009 and was expanded to the entire campus in the coming year.
In addition to new programs, there are many well-established operations on campus that repurpose and divert materials from landfill. Among these is Warehouse and Surplus, which manages the sale and recycling of appliances, computer equipment, and machinery. Over 200 tons of materials are diverted by this operation annually, which resulted in a monetary gain to various campus departments of about $250,000 in fiscal year 2008/09 exclusive of the waste disposal fees avoided in the process. The waste diverted to the Warehouse and Surplus store rose to 597 tons in the 2013/14 fiscal year. At Transportation Services, used oil and antifreeze are collected and recycled, batteries are recycled by Lafayette Auto Supply, and scrap iron and radiators are collected and recycled by a local scrap metal dealer. All gas fuel filters, cleaning fluid, and contaminated or old fuel is sent to private companies for reuse as fuel or in a manufacturing process. At Printing Services, electronic proofs have replaced hardcopy proofs, and computer-to-plate digital technology eliminates the need for film and associated chemicals. These are just a few best practice examples of the many waste management activities being performed across the campus.
Purdue will track the following metrics to assess its materials management performance over time.
Purchasing: 2014 Short Term Goals
Develop educational and training materials to educate procurement professionals and end users on the purchasing of sustainable products.
Purchasing: 2025 Long Term Goals
- Revise language in vendor agreements to require that vendors provide sustainability information for products and generate purchasing reports that support the campus in tracking sustainable purchasing performance.
- Enhance the eProcurement system to facilitate sustainable purchasing. Possible enhancements include:
- List sustainable products at the top of user search results
- Employ sustainability branding or a logo to highlight environmentally preferable items
- Develop comprehensive tools to begin tracking data to benchmark purchasing performance.
- Develop a comprehensive sustainable purchasing policy that includes the following product categories at minimum: paper, office supplies, office equipment (computers, monitors, copiers, printers, scanners, fax machines), appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers, water coolers), and green cleaning chemicals.
- Require that all campus printers default to double-sided printing.
Chemical management: 2014 Short Term Goals
- Investigate the potential to establish a "green lab" training and certification program through the Radiological and Environmental Management (REM Department.
- Support the Solvent Recycling Program, a three-year pilot program where Radiological and Environmental Management (REM) recycles solvent on a small scale and distributes excess quantities to several departments. The program goal is to encourage departments or individual labs to start their own solvent recycling program, if feasible.
Chemical management: 2025 Long Term Goals
- Create a task force to research green chemistry practices and develop guidelines. The guidelines should also include best practices for energy and water resource efficiency in lab management.
- Develop a comprehensive chemical inventorying and redistribution program that encourages and facilitates chemical source reduction, substitution, and redistribution at the department level before the chemicals are declared waste and submitted for disposal.
- Create a "Purdue Green Lab" certification program where a lab building or individual labs can voluntarily implement the guidelines developed by the work group and receive a certificate from Radiological and Environmental Management (REM) and the Office of Sustainability.
Recycling and Waste Management: 2014 Short Term Goals
- Expand the Purdue Recycles desk side dual-stream recycling program.
- Achieve an 85 percent recycling rate by 2014.
- Assess opportunities to implement dual stream recycling in athletics facilities, Stewart Center, and the Purdue Memorial Union.
- Investigate opportunities to write construction specifications to require contractors to recycle construction and demolition materials for all project types, regardless of LEED certification efforts.
Recycling and Waste Management: 2025 Long Term Goals
- Cultivate relationships between campus operational departments and academics/research to develop solutions to operational materials efficiency and management challenges.
- Achieve a 65 percent construction and demolition waste diversion rate.
- Continue to investigate opportunities to reuse coal ash from the Wade Utility Plant.
- Continue to participate in RecycleMania and select a few high profile schools from the past year’s competition to be worthy opponents in the coming year’s competition.