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Purchasing Policies

The College has three policies and procedures related to sustainable purchasing:

EnergyStar Appliances Policy

The College requires that purchased appliances are EPA EnergyStar certified for energy efficiency (except where not possible due to EnergyStar applicability, size restrictions, or other limitations).

Appliances that are eligible for EnergyStar certification include:

  • Air purifiers
  • A/V equipment (DVD players, Blu-ray players, mp3 docks, audio amplifiers)
  • Boilers
  • Clothes washers
  • Computers
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Dishwashers
  • Display screens
  • Freezers
  • Imaging equipment (printers, scanners, copiers, fax machines)
  • Lightbulbs, light strings, and lamps
  • Phones and answering machines
  • Refrigerators (including mini fridges)
  • Room air conditioners
  • Televisions
  • Water coolers/ dispensers

See full list at


Following the passage of the College's first Statement of Environmental Policy in 2003, the College also started requiring that individual departments and offices start purchasing white copy paper with a minimum 30% post-consumer recycled content, and recommended that purchasers seek out other paper office supplies (e.g. file folders) with recycled content. In the College's 2011 Sustainability Action Plan, the College set a goal of 90% of all basic copy paper being 100% post-consumer recycled, FSC-certified, and processed chlorine free (PCF) by 2020, and that 90% of all colored paper, cardstock, and alternative sizes of paper be at least 30% post-consumer recycled.

Environmental Purchasing Policy

The College approved the following purchasing policy as part of its 2011 Sustainability Action Plan:

Pomona College is committed to reducing its impact on the environment. When making purchasing decisions, this means considering alternative practices, items, and services that reduce environmental impact in production, transport, use, and disposal. All college personnel who make purchasing decisions are expected to support and follow this policy to the extent that these recommendations are practical and/or economically feasible.


All consumable products, furniture, fixtures and equipment are covered by this policy, including but not limited to: office supplies (e.g. paper products, writing utensils, fasteners, desk accessories, etc.), printing products (e.g. toner and ink), computing equipment, cleaning products, appliances, food,* lighting, fixtures and furniture,** and everyday cleaning supplies.***


The goals of this policy include the following environmental outcomes:

  • Reduced resource impact from analysis of cradle-to-cradle supply, purchasing, use, and disposal process
  • Consideration of economic, social, environmental, and ethical aspects of all products and services 
  • Reduced waste in the production and use of products, measured by reduced mass sent to landfills 
  • Proper treatment and/or recycling of waste content created during the production or lifetime of products 
  • Increased use of natural products, eventual elimination of products with toxic, unsustainable, or highly wasteful content


Identify and select environmentally-preferred products through consideration of the following:


  • Reduced resource use during manufacturing and use 
  • Location of production (distance traveled by product materials and final product) 
  • Social and environmental track record of producer


  • Materials sourced in an environmentally-conscious way, including compliance with various certifications and labels (e.g. Fair Trade Certified, USDA Organic, Forest Stewardship Council) 
  • Recycled content in product and packaging materials 


  • Efficiency and conservation, including compliance with EnergyStar and/or EPEAT standards


  • Minimal packaging
  • Waste minimization through durability 
  • Minimization of hazardous and toxic wastes 
  • Ability to be recycled or disposed of safely 
  • Ability to return the product for refurbishing/reclamation at the end of its life-cycle

Product life-cycle

  • Product lifetime: how long the product lasts
  • Maintenance: how often the product needs to be maintained or repaired during its lifetime 
  • Initial/Startup costs: the money needed upfront to purchase the product 
  • Operation costs: the money required to keep the product running 
  • Payback time: how long until the efficiency and reduced resource use savings pays for the product

Existing Standards

  • Copy paper of at least 30% post-consumer recycled content, with the goal of increasing as feasible
  • EnergyStar certified appliances and electronic equipment whenever applicable and feasible. his standard also applies to vendor appliances and equipment, including vending machines, computing equipment, and kitchen equipment.

In all purchasing decisions, considerations of reuse or elimination of need should be considered before deciding to acquire new items; however, increased efficiency should also be valued when deciding whether to replace items that use resources (e.g. energy, water) or that have some other ongoing environmental impact.

Bidding requirements or recommendations

The College strives to incorporate the above considerations in all purchasing decisions. In following these purchasing procedures, the College is committed to leading by example and to encouraging current suppliers to provide products and services with a reduced environmental impact. To that end, College purchasers should include a clause in bidding specifications that reads:

Pomona College is committed to purchasing environmentally-preferred products with increased recycled content, reduced packaging, reduced transport distance, and other attributes that reduce the products’ environmental impact. Please supply information about the related environmentally-preferred qualities of specified items, when available, and suggestions about alternative items that you feel may help us meet our sustainable purchasing goals, along with relevant environmentally-related information.

Procedures, Strategies and Responsible Parties

It is the responsibility of individual purchasers to incorporate these considerations into their purchasing decisions. The Sustainability Integration Office is available for technical advice and in identifying potential alternatives and opportunities for improvement. The following qualities should be considered desirable in making purchasing decisions:

  • Biodegradable/Compostable
  • Carcinogen-free 
  • Chlorofluorocarbon(CFC)-free 
  • Durable 
  • Energy-efficient / water-efficient 
  • Heavy metal free (e.g. no mercury, no lead) 
  • Low volatile organic compound (VOC) content 
  • Made from rapidly renewable materials 
  • Recyclable 
  • Recycled content 
  • Refurbished 
  • Reusable

The President’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability and the Sustainability Integration Office will regularly review these purchasing procedures to identify new purchasing categories and opportunities to target in improving green purchasing initiatives. The Sustainability Integration Office will also maintain electronic and other communication tools to assist offices with purchasing decisions, such as a Purchasing Guide and other relevant materials.


The President’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability will work with relevant offices (e.g. Treasurer’s Office, Business Office) to develop tracking mechanisms for evaluating progress. Progress will be based on percentage of products that meet environmental goals as compared to the total volume of applicable purchases, based on cost. These offices will develop a method for evaluating and tracking purchases and assign responsibilities based on that method.

Related Goals in the Sustainability Action Plan

The Pomona College Sustainability Action Plan establishes the following purchasing-related goals:

  • 90% white copy paper purchased 100% PCW, PCF, FSC-certified
  • 90% colored paper, cardstock, and alternative sizes (excluding posters) purchased at least 30% PCW
  • College letterhead 100% PCW, PCF, FSC-certified
  • 30% of College offices/departments certified through Green Office Program

* Including food purchases made by individual offices and departments. Dining Services food purchases are covered in the Food and Agriculture Chapter of the Sustainability Action Plan.
** Including fixture purchases made by individual offices and departments. Fixture and furniture purchases for construction and renovation projects are covered in Green Building Standards and Sustainable Operations and Maintenance Standards.
*** Including cleaning supplies purchases made by individual offices and departments. Housekeeping cleaning supplies purchases are covered in Sustainable Operations and Maintenance Standards.