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December 3, 2009

Switch to recycled paper: It’s the law

News and Information

If your office hasn’t already switched to recycled paper for printing and copying, you have one additional reason to make the switch: it’s the law.

As of Dec. 31, all state agencies — including the UW — must purchase “100 percent recycled content white cut sheet bond paper used in office printers and copiers,” according to the bill (SHB 2287). In addition, all agencies are required to develop and implement a plan by July 1, 2010, for adopting a paper conservation plan with the goal of reducing paper use by 30 percent.

The bill also calls for each agency to develop a paper recycling program, but the UW has had one in place for a number of years.

The UW officially switched to 100 percent recycled content paper in all copy centers in 2006, says Eric Mosher, executive director of Creative Communications. “Many years ago, recycled paper had a bad reputation for uneven quality and inconsistent performance in copiers. But now it runs as well as any other paper. We are in the process of switching to it in all computer print labs and the more than 250 copiers in our departmental copier program are switching, too.”

Creative Communications is working with UW Procurement to contact individual users of large quantities of paper to acquaint them with the changes in law, which also support the UW’s sustainability goals.

The law further specifies that state agencies should “give priority to purchasing from companies that produce paper in facilities that generate energy from a renewable energy source.” Currently, just one company in Washington, Grays Harbor Paper, produces paper in this way. In addition to meeting state requirements, buying local reduces the UW’s environmental footprint, Mosher says. The recycled paper is available through eProcurement from Office Depot.

“The paper is a bit more expensive than 30 percent recycled paper, but if you change the default settings on your copiers and printers to duplex, you will easily recoup that expense and probably come close to the overall goal for paper use reduction,” Mosher says.

“It’s clear that this law aligns with the UW’s sustainability goals, and I have no doubt that voluntary actions by individual units, in addition to steps we are taking centrally, will bring the University into compliance with the law,” he says.