Buy Green

By Nancy Salem

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sandia’s eco-friendly contracting saves money, environment

Sandia is upping the ante on government mandates that require new procurement contracts by federal agencies to include green and sustainable products, technologies, and services.

“We took the rules and did better,” says Don Devoti, manager of Corporate and Strategic Purchasing Dept. 10248. “Green contracting saves money and reduces waste without compromising quality. Why would we not want to investigate that?”

The Labs recently signed a contract with Sandia Service Co., a subsidiary of Sandia Paper Co., an Albuquerque small, woman-owned, economically disadvantaged business that supplies 100 percent post-consumer recycled content (PCRC) copier and printer paper. The previous supplier’s paper was 30 percent PCRC, the minimum federal requirement.

Sandia spends more than $400,000 a year on copier, printer, and fine paper, purchasing 9,000 cartons, each of which holds five reams with 500 sheets of paper per ream. “We looked for a more sustainable solution and found we could get 100 percent recycled paper at a 24 percent cost savings,” says Blake Thies (10248), a buyer in Sandia’s Supply Chain. “It’s greener and more cost effective, a win-win.”

High quality, competitive prices

Environmental specialist Ralph Wrons (4144) and his Materials Sustainability and Pollution Prevention group work with Sandia’s Just in Time, or JIT, program to draft procurement contract language that specifies recycled content and other green provisions. JIT allows Sandia buyers to procure small-value, commercially available goods and services directly from suppliers. “Ralph and his group have helped us figure out what a sustainable contractor looks like,” Blake says. “We seek out high-quality products with positive environmental impacts at competitive pricess.

Green contracting results in less demand on forests, water, and energy, Ralph says. “With 100 percent recycled content copy paper, no trees are used and paper comes from a variety of paper mills using recycled paper,” he says. “It also completes the loop. It’s not a stretch to say that the copy paper we recycle here now could become the input for the copy paper we buy later."

Janitorial products supplier Brady Industries provides 100 percent recycled paper towels and tissues, foam instead of liquid hand soap, and right-sized, thinner trash can liners. “Our supply of green products to Sandia has reduced waste and the use of non-renewable resources, water, and energy,” says Mark Stanger, Brady’s regional manager of operations. About 65 percent of what Brady supplies the Labs meets environmental products criteria.

Ralph says Sandia has worked language into its JIT contracts with electronics suppliers such as Holman’s Inc. of Albuquerque and Wildflower International of Santa Fe requiring they follow federal guidance and supply office products in line with the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). Managed by the Green Electronics Council, the evaluation tool lets manufacturers score the reduced environmental impact of their products.

“With computers, laptops, tablets, monitors, imaging, and other equipment, it raises the bar on manufacturers to align electronics technology with sustainability,” Ralph says. For example, an EPEAT Gold computer no longer has heavy metals such as chromium, mercury, cadmium, and lead and can be recycled at the end of its useful life into components for new equipment.

Ralph says Sandia recycles 100 percent of electronic office products. “We oversee an electronics lifecycle from purchase through disposal that has significantly reduced impact on the environment,” he says.

The reach of green purchasing continues to grow

Procurement worked with Ralph to place a new JIT contract in fiscal year 2016 that brings sustainability to paper shredding. Requesters can obtain bio- instead of petroleum-based oil for shredders and recycled-content plastic bags to capture the shred. When bags of shredded paper are placed into mixed paper recycle carts or dumpsters, the shred is either recycled or composted.

Fleet Services buys bio-based fuels and oils, and bio-based consumables such as glass cleaner, all written into their supplier contracts.

Sandia Office Supply sells a wide variety of office consumables with recycled content and helps Sandia by recycling thousands of spent printer/copier toners annually. “Toner exchange continues to grow at Sandia, a program Sam McCord (4144) set up years ago,” says buyer James Brimhall (10248). “Ralph and Sam do a great job looking for ways to reduce waste at the Labs. They help me as a buyer to focus on quality and contracting with suppliers who offer environmentally sustainable items."

Ralph says green contracting will help the Labs reach its goal of zero waste by 2025. “Since 2008 we’ve reduced waste by over 380 tons, even while growing by another five buildings. Buying recycled content, buying only what we need, and seeking less packaging are good signals to our JIT vendors.”

The JIT group takes sustainability seriously, Blake says. “Contracting is not just status quo,” he says. “Sandia buyers are taking the initiative to work with green suppliers. We ask ourselves what we can do to make the footprint smaller, to do the right thing.”

Don says suppliers have not objected to sustainability requirements and that green contracting will help Sandia achieve its environmental goals. “Suppliers have embraced finding new green products,” he says. “As buyers we shop for what’s important to us, and being green is important.”