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Procuring sustainable office supplies and consumables

All sectors, Office and administration
Low cost
Annual saving:
5 - 15 %
Payback time:
0 - 1 Year(s)
Read more
Resource savings: Raw material:
Depends on the type of consumable and the sustainable alternative
Resource savings: Waste water:
Depends on the type of consumable and the sustainable alternative
Payback time:
The investment cost of consumables, especially sustainable office products, can even be lower than for unsustainable alternatives (see good practices); ROI of less than a year is feasible [1], and may depend on the amount of time spent on researching alternative products
Premises and operation areas:
Office management, Supply operations
Size of company:
Micro (less than 10), Small (less than 50), Medium (less than 250), Large (more than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
What is in it for you:
Improved reputation among customers and stakeholders, reduced environmental impact due to resource savings, and better competitive position towards clients preferring to work with greener companies.
Descriptive information:

Consumables such as paper, staples or beverages are cheap if you consider how often they are used and how easily they are replaced. The decision to use more sustainable suppliers is made easier today thanks to better information and labelling, such as 'Blauer Engel' and 'ENERGYStar' which guarantee a certain standard, and when you consider the benefits that can be achieved: 

  • Improved image with customers, business partners and suppliers
  • Employees take pride in working for an environmentally friendly employer
  • Better business performance thanks to the above combined benefits
  • Diverse environmental gains, such as water and energy savings
  • Financial savings thanks to the above environmental benefits 

Tips for more sustainable office procurement decision-making:

  • Identify regular or popular consumables
  • Search for alternatives online or through retail catalogues with the help of product labels and information
  • Develop criteria for their replacement
  • Choose the best sustainable alternative in terms of price-quality

If possible, ordering larger quantities reduces packaging and the number of deliveries (trips), which can also be good for the environment.


UBC (2012), Sustainability Guide, http://www.familymed.ubc.ca/files/2012/04/UBC-sustainability-guide.pdf

Zero Waste Scotland, Sustainable procurement, http://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/content/sustainable-procurement

Eco-Officiency, Benefits of becoming a sustainable business, http://www.eco-officiency.com/benefits_becoming_sustainable_business.html

Jennifer Hermes (2012), Evaluating the ROI in going green, http://www.environmentalleader.com/2012/06/19/evaluating-the-roi-in-goin...

Oeko Institute (2015), Umwelt-und Kostenentlastung durch eine umweltverträgliche Beschaffung, http://www.oeko.de/oekodoc/2379/2015-541-de.pdf

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