There are many labels, certificates and sustainability claims for office materials and paper. It is therefore important to know what their value is, and how you can include circularity in your specifications in a correct and efficient way. The sector is increasingly focusing on reversed logistics systems for office equipment. A great way to effectively close the cycle.
Circular Strategies Office Supplies
Internal sharing: Not every employee needs to have their own stapler, scissors or hole punch. Items that you do not need all the time can therefore easily be shared.
Minimal use of material: Find out which weight class of paper you actually need for the intended application.
Less waste: where possible and relevant, choose refillable products (e.g. pens or ink cartridges) and avoid consumables (e.g. stapleless staplers)
Increase the share of recycled content: ask the market what percentages are feasible, they are best aware of recent innovations. Post-consumer recyclate has a greater impact than pre-consumer recyclate, which is made from cutting waste, among other things. You can also request (and rate) information about the eco-score of the transport of the fibers to be recycled and even about the distance radius within which collection will take place.
Increase the share of biobased content: when possible, opt for vegetable inks and biobased plastics. When procuring paper, demand that non-recycled fibers come from sustainably managed forests.
Also think of primary, secondary and tertiary packaging and transport. The generic packaging criterion of the Flemish government can provide inspiration here. You can also set requirements for the fleet for deliveries (ecoscore) and/or use reversed logistics. This includes collection pf end-of-use products at delivery of new ones.
Designing for longevity: Choose refillable products when relevant, request guarantees for the availability of consumables.
Repairability and maintainability: Can the parts that break the fastest be easily replaced? Are spare parts available?
Design for Dissasembly: can the products be easily disassembled to reuse the parts
Standardized design: opt for standard dimensions to avoid having to replace many associated products at end of use.
Contractual agreements for take back and reuse: include these in your specifications and ask for transparency about reuse.
Design for recycling: simple disassembly makes it easier to recover raw materials.
Insight into materials: ask for plastic parts to be marked with the type of plastic. This facilitates high-quality recycling.
Contractual agreements for take-back and recycling: include take-back and recycling - for products that cannot be reused - in your specifications and request transparency about the processing. Also ensure a high-quality, selective collection of the products in your own organization.
Reducing toxicity: Presence of toxic substances makes recycling difficult and should therefore be avoided. During the production process, use and disposal, they can also have a negative impact on people and the environment. Where possible, avoid the use of optical brighteners, harmful dyes, coatings, complexing agents and adhesives.
Biodegradable/compostable: there are products on the market whose components are compostable. The potential impact is of course only realized if these are actually composted at end-of-life.
Extensive file on copying and graphic paper on the EU GPP website (up for update)
On the SPP criteria tool you will find relevant criteria under the cluster office facilities and services
You can require specific labels in your specifications, provided you add 'or equivalent'. This leaves the possibility to the supplier to demonstrate that his product meets all the conditions of the label, without having actually achieved it.
On labelinfo.be you will find an overview of the recognized labels for paper products (Dutch & French)
Responsible office provides an overview of the existing certificates for office equipment (Dutch).
Many manufacturers and suppliers also have their own labels or classifications for their products. These obviously do not have the same value as third-party certificates.
Circular Procurement projects - Office Supplies & Paper
In December 2020 Lyreco Nederland (distributer of office supplies) and SUEZ Recycling & Recovery Netherlands (expert in sustainable material- and waste management) signed an agreement to collectivel…