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Policies and Procedures
Green Purchasing and Break Free From Plastic Policy

This policy applies to all consumable and durable products and electronics purchased by SUNY ESF. This 
policy has been reviewed and approved by the responsible executive. It is the responsibility of all purchasers at the College to abide by this policy, to the greatest extent practicable. This policy outlines environmentally preferred sustainability criteria for commonly purchased consumable items and electronics.

REASON FOR POLICY

The materials, supplies, equipment, and furniture used in a building all impact indoor air quality, and thus contribute to the overall health of building occupants. The products that are purchased, consumed and removed from campus also contribute to climate change. The environmental impact of consumable
products can be reduced by purchasing materials that have been salvaged, contain recycled content, are 
durable (rather than designed for single or short-term use), are rapidly renewable, contain certified wood, or are manufactured locally. 
SUNY ESF has committed to reducing the environmental impact of the materials and supplies it uses on 
campus through adopting the Post Landfill Action Network’s (PLAN) Break Free From Plastic Pledge, setting zero waste goals and now through establishing specific sustainable purchasing criteria, building upon New York State’s EO 4 Approved Purchasing Specifications. This policy clarifies product selection and purchasing criteria needed to meet the requirements for the aforementioned Pledge, NYS’s Executive Order 4 Approved Purchasing Specifications and LEED v4.1 O+M MR Prerequisite Purchasing Policy certification/recertification. 

SCOPE OF POLICY

This policy applies to:

  • President
  • Vice Presidents
  • Deans, Directors & Department Heads
  • Area Managers & Supervisors
  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Students

WEB SITE REFERENCES

This policy: 
Policy Office: https://www.esf.edu/physicalplant/ ; https://www.esf.edu/sustainability/
Vice President for Administration: http://www.esf.edu/administration/
Procurement Office: https://www.esf.edu/business/purchasing

RELATED INFORMATION

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Part 516 – Records to be Kept by Employers:
http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/textidx?SID=dc8bc2797d8cf7f1e268b96a506c1854&mc=true&node=pt2
9.3.516&rgn=div5
NY State Executive Order #4: https://ogs.ny.gov/greenny-purchasing-requirements-and-tools

SUNY Construction Fund Directives: https://sucf.suny.edu/resources/program-directives

CONTACTS

Specific questions should be directed to the following:

 

Subject Contact Telephone Office or Department email/web address
Policy Clarification and 
General Information
Chief Financial 
Officer and VP of 
Administration
(315) 470-6622

policies@esf.edu

https://www.esf.edu/employees/policies/

Policy Development Sustainability 
Division and
Facilities 
Operations
315-470-6588

sustainability@esf.edu

https://www.esf.edu/sustainability

 

DEFINITIONS

Purchasing Criteria: Includes Ongoing consumables and electronic equipment purchases.

LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

USGBC: United States Green Building Council

POLICY DETAILS

Green Purchasing and Break Free From Plastic Policy 

Effective Date: November 2021

Scope

This policy applies to consumable and durable commodities and electronic equipment purchased at 
SUNY ESF. This policy and its Appendix will be consulted by purchasers prior to placing orders for
commodities and electronics. 

The College shall strive to meet the following targets:

Category Goal Performance Measurement Unit
Purchases: Ongoing consumables (general) 100% meet GreenNY purchasing specifications Cost
Purchases: Ongoing consumables (single use plastics) 100% meet GreenNY purchasing specifications Cost
Purchases: Office equipment, appliances, audiovisual equipment, and other electric powered equipment 100% meet GreenNY purchasing specifications Cost
Purchases: Lamps 50% of lamps contain no mercury (with equivalent energy efficiency as mercury containing lamps) or have an average of 25 picograms of mercury per lumen-hour or less  Number of lamps
Purchases: Food and beverage 15% meet sustainabilty criteria Cost

 

PROCEDURES

Roles and Responsibilities

Mark Lichtenstein, Chief of Staff, Executive Operating Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer, serves as the responsible party for this policy. The responsible party ensures that this policy is executed and that all individuals and any relevant contracted vendors responsible for purchasing materials on campus are aware of the goals and procedures detailed in this policy. Further, the responsible party is responsible for sharing and refining this policy with the Business Office and encouraging policy adoption accordingly. The responsible party is responsible for reviewing and updating this policy upon the interval specified in the quality assurance section. The responsible party will ensure that appropriate individuals are informed of  policy updates as they occur.

Procedures and Strategies for Implementation

All ongoing consumable and durable commodities and electronic equipment purchased for use at SUNY 
ESF will abide by the green purchasing requirements set by the NYS Governor under Executive Order 4
and by the College’s Break Free From Plastic Pledge. As a State agency, SUNY ESF must abide by State 
regulations, follow guidelines and use resources/specifications provided by the NYS Office of General 
Services when purchasing ongoing consumables and electronic equipment. EO 4 contains the following 
language:

State agencies and authorities are required to purchase commodities, services, and technology that meet 
the approved green procurement specifications. Executive Order 4, Establishing a State Green Procurement 
and Agency Sustainability Program, established the creation of green procurement lists and specifications 
of commodities, services, and technology for use by state agencies during a procurement. The specifications identify product criteria that will:
Reduce or eliminate the health and environmental risks from the use or release of toxic substances:

Minimize the risks of the discharge of pollutants into the environment;
Minimize the volume and toxicity of packaging;
Maximize the use of recycled content and sustainably managed renewable resources; 
Provide other environmental and health benefits. 
(NYS OGS, 2019, Retrieved on 08/10/19, at: https://ogs.ny.gov/greenny/executive-order-4-approved-specifications ) 

As part of EO 4, New York State’s Office of General Services provides a detailed list of green purchasing 
specifications for many materials. Specifications do not exist for every consumable or durable commodity, however; specifications are continually created and adopted by NYS. In most cases these specifications, applicable to all New York State agencies, also align with LEED v4.1 criterion. Purchasers at the College should strive to meet both GreenNY and LEED v4.1 criteria. However, if these standards are not in alignment purchasers should abide by GreenNY standards (linked above). Purchasers must always be in compliance with the College’s Break Free From Plastics Pledge.

Purchasers procuring products and commodities that are not covered by NYS EO4 specifications must 
strive to ensure that they are covered by one or more of the following 3rd party certifications:

Purchasers procuring products and commodities that are not covered by NYS EO4 specifications or the 
previously mentioned 3rd party certifications must strive to ensure that they are covered by the 
following ESF Purchasing Guidelines.:

  • Product is made from recycled content
  • Minimal, recyclable and/or compostable packaging
  • Product is easily reusable/durable
  • Uses replaceable/refillable parts. 

Break Free From Plastic Pledge Criteria 

The following single use items are no longer able to be purchased with State funding for use on College 
property or for College events. Members of the campus community who purchase these items with their 
own funds should avoid bringing them to campus to the greatest extent practicable.

  • Single-use plastic utensils;
  • Single-use plastic straws and stirrers;
  • Single-use plastic food service ware (cups, plates, bowls, trays, sauce dishes, lids etc);
  • Single-use plastic clamshells and to-go containers;
  • All polystyrene (Styrofoam and similar) food service products;
  • Single-use plastic-lined cups and bowls (coffee cups, soup bowls, snack boats etc.);
  • Single-use plastic-wrapped condiments, sauces, and seasonings (butter, jelly, peanut butter, 
    creamers, sugars, salt, pepper etc.);
  • Individually-packaged items with bulk alternatives (napkins, oyster crackers, mints, toothpicks 
    etc.);
  • Individually wrapped fresh baked goods;
  • Single-use hot beverage packets unnecessarily packaged in plastic (K-cups, plastic wrapped tea 
    bags, etc.);
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Plastic-wrapped giveaways

Exemptions:

  • Pre-packaged plastic wrapped retail items (chip bags, granola bar wrappers, candy bar 
    wrappers, toiletries etc.);
  • Plastic trash and recycling bags;
  • Plastic wrap for use during food prep (this does not refer to individually wrapped food items, as 
    noted above);
  • Plastic and polystyrene (Styrofoam) packing material from incoming orders;
  • Plastic packaging from external caterers;
  • Single-use plastics used in academic setting (lab equipment etc.)
  • Single-use plastics necessary for health and safety purposes (medical plastics etc.)

Single use paper items coated in plastic are not a viable substitute for the products listed in above. 
Members of the campus community are encouraged to use durable, reusable and washable items to 
replace single use items. Single use compostable products are able to be purchased with State dollars 
and used on ESF’s campuses. However, they must be certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute
(BPI). In all instances, reusable alternatives should be favored over single-use compostable items.

Accessibility is important to maintain; therefore, if you need an accommodation exempting you from 
this portion of the Policy, please contact the Responsible Party. Point of purchase (Café’s and catering 
companies etc.) should make these single use items available upon request for those that require a 
reasonable accommodation.

Food and Beverage Criteria

Food and beverage purchases shall meet the following criteria:

  • Sustainable agriculture. The food or beverage must be labeled USDA Organic, Food Alliance 
    Certified, Rainforest Alliance Certified, Protected Harvest Certified, Fair Trade, or Marine 
    Stewardship Council’s Blue Eco-Label, or labeled with the European Community Organic 
    Production logo in accordance with Regulations (EC) No. 834/2007 and (EC) No. 889/2008.
  • Local sourcing. The food or beverage must contain raw materials harvested and produced 
    within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of the site

Policy Implementation

The GreenNY specs do not recommend specific products for purchase. The NYS eMarketplace designates 
items on State contract that meet EO4 specifications, but this list is not exhaustive nor particularly easy 
to filter and search. 

This Policy and Appendix aim to 1) increase awareness of the EO4 specifications/mandate, 2) comply 
with the College’s Break Free from Plastic Pledge, 3) comply with LEED v.4 O+M requirements and 4) 7 
lead to the creation of a Green Purchasing Guide. This Guide will link campus users directly to products 
that meet green purchasing specifications and are able to be directly purchased. The Guide will endeavor to include products that are available on state contract and/or through a preferred source and/or  minority/Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) prior to recommending a discretionary purchase. The Guide will be added to this Policy, as an Appendix, upon completion and updated as necessary. 

Quality Assurance/Quality Control Processes

The responsible executive will evaluate purchasing activity on a yearly basis to evaluate progress 
towards the implementation goals outlined on Page 4. If any purchases are not being recorded properly, the responsible party will inform the appropriate individuals to ensure that activities are recorded moving forward. If any implementation goals are not being met, the purchasing department will investigate the situation and will work with the individuals purchasing materials to resolve the issue and evaluate whether updates are necessary to the policy or the purchasing processes in order to achieve the implementation goals. 

RESPONSIBILITIES

Office of Sustainability and Purchasing Office/Business Office/ Facilities

  • Share awareness and educational resources about New York State’s green purchasing mandates (Executive Order #4) throughout the College.
  • Educate relevant decision makers about available green product and services specifications and resources.
  • Offer support and training resources (as needed) to help with the 
    implementation of this policy across departments.

HISTORY – POLICY REVISION RECORD

Policy Implementation: November 2021

Initial Development: Fall 2021

Appendix I – Policy Creation

College-level purchasing data was obtained and analyzed for the purposes of creating and implementing 
this Policy. The eleven (11) most frequently used1 vendors in 20192 include:

  • CDW
  • Fisher Scientific
  • Forestry Suppliers
  • Hillyard
  • Intivity
  • Proftech (Staples)
  • Dell
  • Gholkar's
  • Right Price
  • B&H Photo
  • VWR

These vendors provided a complete list of every commodity purchased during the calendar year (or corresponding fiscal year). These commodities were then ranked by total expenditure per vendor and 
categorized as:

  • Electronics
  • Office Supplies
  • Trades Equipment/Materials
  • Cleaning Supplies & Equipment
  • Lab/Field Work Supplies
  • Tools
  • Apparel
  • Chemicals & Biological Specimen/Reagents
  • Food and Cutlery

This categorization captures the top five commodities purchased by the College in a typical year, by cost. 
As described above, the NYS EO 4 Approved Purchasing Specifications establish, “the creation of green procurement lists and specifications of commodities, services, and technology for use by state agencies 
during a procurement”. These specifications offer detailed information about what characteristics must be present in specific products in order for them to be considered “green”. The specifications, however, do not recommend specific products for purchase. The NYS eMarketplace designates items on State contract that meet EO4 specifications, but this list is not exhaustive nor particularly easy to filter and search.

This Policy and Appendix aim to:

  1. Increase awareness of the EO4 specifications/mandate, 
  2. Comply with the College's Break Free from Plastic Pledge
  3. Comply with LEED v4 O+M requirements
  4. Lead to the creation of a Green Purchasing Guide.

This guide will link campus users directly to products that meet green purchasing specifications and are able to directly purchased. This Guide will endeavor to include products that are available on state contract and/or through a preferred source and/or Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) prior to recommending a discretionary purchase. The Guide will be added to this Policy as an Appendix, upon competion and updated as necessary.

Determined by dollar expenditure

2 2019 selected to avoid data being skewed by the COVID-19 pandemic