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Buying Recycled

Published on: 9/6/2013 9:08 AM


What is a recycled product?

A recycled-content product is one that has been manufactured from recycled material. Some recycled-content products are made with a large percentage of recycled material, some have very little recycled content. Look for products labeled as recycled and, when you can, look for products made with a high Post-Consumer Waste (PCW) content. Post-consumer waste is waste from products that were used, collected from the consumer, and then recycled into a new product.

Why should you buy recycled?

Recycling begins when you participate in curbside and business recycling programs. The collected materials are then manufactured into new products. When you purchase those new recycled-content products, you are closing the loop by bringing materials full circle from old product to new product!

Buying recycled: 

  • Conserves natural resources
  • Reduces waste and pollution
  • Conserves energy
  • Creates jobs and makes operations more cost efficient and competitive
  • Builds demand for markets for recycled materials to use in manufacturing, thus reducing the cost of recycling and recycled-content products.


How to buy recycled

Look at the label. Products with recycled-content usually have a label to tell you their content. Look for the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content you can find. Let store managers and manufacturers know that you prefer products made from recycled materials. The following is a list of some of the many home products made from recycled content materials:

  • Paperboard boxes such as cereal boxes
  • Plastic bottles & jugs for household cleaners, shampoos, detergents etc.
  • Toilet paper & facial tissues
  • Paper towels
  • Writing Paper & Envelopes
  • Aluminum cans
  • Re-refined motor oil
  • Retread tires
  • Plastic lumber
  • Home and office insulation,
  • Fiberfill sleeping bags
  • Carpet
  • Shoes
  • Clothes
  • Furniture
  • Children's toys
  • Compost
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Nails
  • Newspapers
  • Garden hoses
  • Paint
  • Roofing material
  • Flooring
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Interior cabinets for kitchen and bathrooms
  • Ceramic tiles


Implementing a Buy Recycled Program

Buying products made from recycled material is a critical step in completing the recycling loop. Businesses that establish Buy Recycled policies can have a great impact on the recycled product market and, over time, can use their purchasing power to influence the marketplace and drive down the cost of recycled office products. There are direct bottom-line benefits to be derived from re-designing a product to incorporate recycled materials.

Here are a few tips and suggestions about how to develop and implement a Buy Recycled program in your office.

  1. Learn more about recycled products. Ask your vendors for lists of the recycled products they carry.

  2. Try a few products. Most vendors are willing to provide some free samples of products for you to try. Test the products for performance and capability.

  3. Establish a current baseline on your purchases of recycled-content products. How much are you currently buying? How much are you spending on recycled-content products?

  4. Develop a strategy to introduce more recycled products into your office. Set a goal for the percent of products with recycled-content that you will purchase; budget for purchase of products with recycled-content that cost somewhat more than products without recycled content; and set a date for achieving your goal.

  5. Communicate your Buy Recycled policy. Inform your employees, your vendors, and your business associates that you intend to purchase products with recycled-content. If you have developed a written strategy or policy, distribute it to all employees and vendors. Showing the strong support of management is essential to achieving your Buy Recycled goal.

  6. Establish price preferences with your vendors for recycled products. Indicate your company's willingness to pay a slightly higher price for products made from recycled material.

  7. Track and evaluate the program. Measure the success or failure of your program. Share your concerns about price, availability, and selection with your vendor. Vendors want to keep your business and will help you to achieve your goal, because if they don't, you can seek a vendor who will help you.