Spring 2018 Newsletter
In This Issue
Sustainable Paper Definitions 
Options Not So Clear Cut
Wednesday, May 9
11am-12:30pm Pacific
2-3:30pm Eastern

Purchasing environmentally preferable office and janitorial paper products seems simple: choose products with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content without chlorinated bleaching agents. Done. 

However, over the past few years, environmental standards for paper have become more complex. Some give credit for paper products that contain agricultural waste, "rapidly renewable" and (certified) sustainably harvested virgin tree fibers, and even "biobased" content.

Come learn why purchasing environmentally preferable paper paper products is needed now more than ever -- and is an important element of a sustainable purchasing program.

This webinar will discuss why creating specifications for this category remains a challenge and present new tools that can help your organization meet its sustainability goals and  document environmental benefits.

This webinar will also highlight how several state and local governments have successfully implemented paper reduction and sustainable purchasing policies and programs.

Presenters include:
  • Julie Weiss, Project Manager, City of
    Palo Alto, CA
  • Joshua Martin, Director, Environmental Paper Network
  • Alicia Culver, Executive Director, RPN
SPLC Summit
May 14-16, 2018
Minneapolis, MN

Use code "P10RPN"
to receive 10% off
the Summit Pass
(Non-Member registrant type)

The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council's Annual Summit brings together 400 purchasing and sustainability professionals, suppliers, and NGO experts from diverse sectors and regions to share sustainable purchasing best practices for organizations. 

The Summit's expert-led sessions, networking, tradeshow, and buyer-supplier matchmaking are open to both SPLC members and non-members.  
RPN and FOE Release Report
on Climate-Friendly Food Purchasing 
In December 2017,  Friends of the Earth and RPN co-published  The Meat of the Matter: A Municipal Guide to Climate-Friendly Food Purchasing, a report that presents a menu of strategies, tools, and examples to help local governments and other organizations reduce the environmental, health, and fiscal impacts of their food service operations.

Recognizing that over 30% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are linked to production, transportation, storage, and disposal of food, this guide focuses on ways to reduce food-related climate impacts (e.g., by transitioning from meat-centric to plant-forward entrees, shrinking portion sizes, etc.). The report explains:
  • Compelling environmental, health, and economic benefits of serving plant-based foods;
  • Key elements of a climate-friendly food procurement policy and standards; and 
  • How to create an implementation plan, conduct staff training, update bid solicitation language, and
    track environmental impacts and cost savings.
You can also view slides and a video recording from our December 2017 Meat of the Matter webinar. Please contact us if you want help getting started!
New Resources Help Purchasers
Find Safer Food Service Ware
Responding to a growing list of communities discovering persistent and toxic non-stick chemicals (including Teflon) in their drinking water, Washington recently became the first state to ban a class of non-stick  chemicals  known as per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs) in disposable food service ware and firefighting foam.

PFASs have been found in many brands of disposable plates, bowls, and "clamshells" made of moulded paper and agricultural fibers (e.g., bagasse and wheat straw). To address this problem, 
RPN created a new  web page highlighting resources to guide specifiers toward safer food service ware Featured resources include:  
Green Seal Issues New, Stronger 
Laundry Products Standard 
Proposes Weaker Janitorial Paper Standard
Green Seal,  well-known for its strong multi-attribute standard for "green" cleaning products (GS-37), recently updated  its standard for commercial laundry care products ( GS-51).  Thi s new standard inc lud es health, envi ronmental, and performance requirements for laundry detergents, stain removers, fabric softeners, and whiteners. Based on this standard, Green Seal verifies that the laundry products it certifies are biodegradable, have low toxicity, and use reduced or recyclable packaging. Currently, three brands of commercial  laundry products are certified  by Green Seal. Additional low-toxicity laundry products are certified by UL EcoLogo and  US EPA's Safer Choice  program.

Green Seal, which has a relatively strong standard for janitorial paper products (GS-1), recently proposed weakening it by adding  "rapidly renewable" virgin fiber to the standard's list of fiber options that count toward Green Seal certification. RPN submitted comments strongly opposing this proposed revision to the GS-1 standard. Our primary concern is that allowing "rapidly renewable" virgin fiber (including tress) to help janitorial paper products become certified as a "green" product would promote tree plantations that often lack biodiversity and do a poor job at mitigating climate change -- unlike mature forests.

This proposed revision to Green Seal's Sanitary Paper Standard is also out of step with federal environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) guidelines, which encourage U.S. government employees to purchase paper towels and bathroom tissue products that contain a minimum percentage of post-consumer recycled content as detailed in the US EPA's Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines.

Several companies have taken steps to make their janitorial paper products eligible for federal procurement preferences by registering them as "USDA BioPreferred," a designation 
RPN considers "greenwashing" for this category since all janitorial paper products are biobased. 

For more background and discussion of this issue, join our webinar on this topic scheduled for May 9th (see sidebar for details and registration link).
FDA Restricts Triclosan in Antiseptic Hand Wash Products Used by Consumers and Health Care
In December 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a rule to restrict the use of 24 "active" (i.e., pesticidal) ingredients in antiseptic hand wash products used in health care facilities due to insufficient safety and efficacy data. These products include  health care personnel and surgical hand washes and rubs as well as patient antiseptic skin preparations.  Manufacturers will have one year to reformulate or remove their products from the market. 

This follows a September 2016 rule in which FDA banned 19 active ingredients -- including triclosan and triclocarban -- in over-the-counter (OTC) consumer antiseptic hand soaps. In this ruling FDA explained, "Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections."

FDA is continuing to review the safety and efficacy of six other active ingredient s commonly found in hand washes -- ethanol isopropyl alcohol,  povidone-iodine,  benzalkonium chloride benzethonium chloride , and  chloroxylenol (PCMX). It deferred rule-making on these substances for a year to give manufacturers more time to submit  safety and efficacy data on these substances.
New Report Address Labor and Human Rights
in IT Procurements
Institutional purchasers are increasingly interested in procuring products that are not only environmentally preferable, but also produced in a socially responsible manner. Knowing what to ask suppliers about how they are addressing negative labor and human rights impacts and what constitutes credible supporting documentation from a supplier is a challenge for both public and private sector purchasers. 

To address this challenge, the Green Electronics Council has created a Purchasers Guide for Addressing Labor and Human Rights Impacts in IT Procurements. This new resource provides institutional purchasers with guidance to assist them in procuring IT products from companies that are improving the social responsibility of their supply chains.
China's Ban on Recycled Plastic and Paper
May Spur U.S. Buy Recycled Movement
In January 2018, China banned the import of all post-consumer plastic and unsorted paper. China cites high levels of contamination and the desire to develop domestic recycling systems as the catalyst for enacting this policy, known as China's "National Sword."

U.S. recycling programs have been hit hard by this policy, with some jurisdictions having to store, landfill, or even stop collection of certain recyclables.

It's more important than ever for government entities and businesses to buy products with post-consumer recycled content in order to boost demand -- and strengthen markets -- for recyclable materials.

Is China's policy affecting your organization's recycling program? And, do you have plans to increase your purchases of recycled-content products? Please let us know. RPN will be following this issue closely. 

Additional information on procurement of recycled-content products is available from the Northeast Recycling Council.