Council Pushes Recycled Paper Use

UC encourages departments to start using 30 percent recycled paper

Amid a week of Earth Day celebrations, the Undergraduate Council endorsed one of the University’s efforts to work toward a greener Harvard. On Sunday night the UC passed a resolution encouraging a switch to 30 percent recycled paper. The legislation joins an ongoing effort by the Harvard Green Campus Initiative (HGCI) for all the University’s departments to start purchasing recycled paper.

“Thirty percent recycled paper is great because it’s reducing the amount of trees you have to harvest,” said Philip W. Kreycik ’06, the coordinator of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Resource Efficiency Program for HGCI.

Kreycik said that in the past recycled paper was more expensive, but that downside was recently removed.

Manager of Strategic Procurement Raymond F. Wise said that last summer Harvard Strategic Procurement, which maintains contracts for office supplies, equipment, and services for the University, renegotiated its contract with OfficeMax to allow departments to buy 30 percent recycled paper for the same price as virgin, or non-recycled, paper.

“There’s no reason for departments not to get 30 percent,” Kreycik said.

Robert Gogan, supervisor of Waste Management at the University, estimated that about half of Harvard’s departments currently purchase 30 percent recycled paper.

Dara B. Olmsted ’00, HGCI’s Special Projects Coordinator, said the biggest barrier to a total switch to recycled paper is Harvard’s decentralization. Because each department of each school purchases its own supplies, it is more difficult to make all the purchasers aware of the new contract.

In the past, recycled paper was considered inferior in quality and sometimes caused printers to jam. But Olmsted said Harvard Medical School sponsored a recycled paper challenge to show the quality of recycled paper and to encourage the school to make the change.

Gogan said that recycled paper has advantages, as it is more opaque than virgin paper, and drawbacks since its content can be unknown. But Gogan said the differences are slight.

Gogan added that the U.S. government has been using 30 percent recycled paper since 1996 to print items such as treasury notes and postage stamps. Dollar bills are printed on 100 percent recycled paper and Harvard watermark paper has 50 percent recycled content, he said.

—Staff writer Chelsea L. Shover can be reached at clshover@fas.harvard.edu.