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Sustainability at ESF
Green Purchasing

Our green purchasing program supports our College zero waste goals and exceeds state mandates (Executive Order 4/GreenNY and Executive Order 22) . We have adopted SUNY-leading purchasing policies, but more importantly, have developed robust programs to aid campus in implementation. We believe that it is not enough to simply adopt a policy, we prioritize transforming our words into action.

NYS Executive Order 4 (EO4): Green Procurement

Executive Order 4 established an interagency committee on sustainability and green procurement. This committee creates lists and specifications (specs) for environmentally preferred products. These specs and products are focused on the following elements:

  • Reduce or eliminate the health and environmental risks from the use or release of toxic substances

  • Minimize 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

State agencies are required to purchase commodities, services and technology that meet the approved green procurement specifications. ESF is a state agency, therefore must abide by these regulations.

The Office of Business Affairs partnered with the Office of Sustainability and the NYS Center for Sustainable Materials Management (housed at ESF) to create ESF's Green Purchasing Guide to assist campus purchasers in compliance.

The GreenNY website lists approved specifications and also features a searchable list of products that meet EO4 specifications that are available through preferred sources or centralized contracts. The GreenNY website also features a robust Resources section that includes annual GreenNY progress reports, webinars, case studies and much more.

GreenNY Specifications


GreenNY Resources


Green Purchasing & Break Free From Plastic Policy

Purchasers should also review ESF's Green Purchasing & Break Free From Plastic Policy. Among other things, this Policy details a list of single use plastic items that are no longer able to be purchased with State funding for use on College property or for College events.

Items no longer able to be purchased with state funds include:

  • Utensils, straws, and stirrers
  • Food service ware (cups, plates, bowls, trays, sauce cups. and lids)
  • Clamshells and to-go containers
  • Polystyrene (Styrofoam and similar) food service products
  • Plastic-lined cups and bowls (coffee cups, snack boats, etc.)
  • Plastic-wrapped condiments, sauces and seasonings
  • Individually-packaged items with bulk alternatives (napkins, oyster crackers, mints, etc.)
  • Individual wrapped baked goods
  • Individual hot beverage packets (K-cups, plastic tea bags, etc.)
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Plastic-wrapped giveaways

Any single-use plastic materials needed for health and safety purposes are exempt from this policy. Single-use plastics needed in academic settings (laboratory analyses, etc.) are also exempt. See the policy for the full list of exemptions.

Green Purchasing Guide

The Green Purchasing Guide assists campus purchasers as they strive to achieve compliance with GreenNY purchasing mandates. The guide was designed to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. It is organized by Product Category and each section includes a table of contents. The Guide is organized to make it easy for purchasers to abide by NYS Procurement Guidelines.

To learn more about the Guide's creation, click below to read our short case study.

Case Study

The Office of Sustainability hosted a series of training sessions for the campus community. These sessions introduced the Guide and Policy to the campus community and explained why green purchasing in important. A condensed Q&A is included below the video:

Green Purchasing Q & A

Contact us! We are happy to help you find sustainable versions of the products and services you use on campus. The Guide is updated a few times per year, and will include these requested items so others may also find them.

Again, contact us! If you know or use any sustainable products that are not in the Guide, share them with us. If they meet the specifications, we will add it to the Guide!

Yes! The Guide and the Policy are designed to for use at ESF, but feel free to share it with others that may find it useful.

Use the single-use items you already have before buying more sustainable versions. These items are going to create waste if they are used or not, so they might as well be utilized for their purpose!

Avoid using these at public facing-events, but we encourage you to use these in your office or at internal meetings.

Absolutely! We encourage students adopt sustainable practices in anyway they can.

The only items you need to worry about are those listed under the EO4 Approved Specifications and in ESF' Policy. Single-use plastics used in an academic setting (lab equipment) and single-use plastics necessary for health and safety purposes are exempt from the policy. We encourage you to review the work your lab performs and determine if reusable and durable alternatives can be incorporated into your lab activities. If you find reusable alternatives, please let us know and we will add them to the guide to share with other campus members.

The Guide does not currently include those products, but it certainly can in the future. There are a number of GreenNY specs related to vehicles/equipment and associated maintenance. If you have trouble identifying products that meet the GreenNY specs please reach out to us so we can help with research.

NYS Executive Order 18 (EO18): Water Bottle Ban

Clear water bottle on a gradient white to blue background

Executive Order No. 18 was issued in 2009 and eliminates the purchase and use of bottled water in state facilities. Bottled water is costlier than tap water and is not necessarily safer. State funds should never be used to purchase plastic water bottles and members of the campus community should avoid providing them (and all single use bottles) at events, meetings and conferences to the greatest extent possible. Individuals should also prioritize use of reusable water bottles in their day to day activities on campus!


Discounts on Low/Zero Waste Items

ESF is a member of the Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN). The Post-Landfill Action Network cultivates, educates, and inspires the student-led zero waste movement. They inform students about the waste crisis and equip them with the necessary skills and resources to implement solutions to waste in their campus communities. As a member campus, ESF students, faculty and staff have access to a variety of resources in PLAN's Member Hub. This Hub contains manuals, digital resources, workshops, trainings, a discount directory and much more. The discount directory offers deals on brands such as Bee's Wrap, Ecovative, Klean Canteen, World Centric and much more!

Anyone with an email address can access the Hub