Sustainable Purchasing

“Sustainable purchasing” refers to the acquisition of products that are made from recycled content; that are environmentally preferable, bio-based, or energy- and water-efficient; that use alternate fuel and renewable energy; or that offer alternatives to hazardous or toxic chemicals.

Procurement Services is committed to supporting sustainable initiatives by leveraging its buying power and supplier partnerships. Over the past several years, we’ve developed strong supplier partnerships that support sustainability initiatives. 

For a list of sustainable products, visit the Find Products and Services page to search by supplier, by commodity, or by the Sustainable Products attribute.

What are sustainable products and services and why is it important to use them?

Sustainable products provide visible benefits to the university. They are reusable, energy-efficient (or have greater efficiencies than industry standards), are made with post-consumer materials, have reduced toxicity properties, are manufactured with minimal environmental impact, and are delivered in eco-responsible packaging.

Examples of the types of sustainable products that university suppliers provide include:

  • Laboratory chemicals that can be easily disposed of without harming the environment
  • Cleaning supplies with less harsh and safer formulas
  • Items made from 100 percent post-consumer materials or recycled products
  • Unique items made from natural resources (e.g., corn and soy) that can be replenished
  • Energy-efficient laboratory equipment (e.g., safety cabinets)

University suppliers provide different types of sustainable services, including:

  • Disposing of used materials (e.g., carpeting and catalogs) in recycling centers
  • Replacing mercury thermometers with thermometers that use less hazardous materials
  • Investing in reusable shipping containers and eco-friendly packaging materials
  • Managing a program for collecting and recycling pipette boxes and inserts for U-M labs
  • Assisting departments and Procurement Services with sourcing and identifying green products

Buying Green in M-marketsite 

M-marketsite is the university's online catalog ordering system that allows faculty and staff to securely place orders from multiple suppliers. Read instructions for accessing M-marketsite here.

Supplier catalogs are either punchout or hosted. How you search for sustainable products depends on which type of catalog you are using. Search options are listed below by punchout and hosted.

Punchout supplier catalogs

Punchout supplier catalogs have icons listed in the product search tab. Click on a specific icon to access the supplier's catalog. Use the category field when searching for sustainable products in a punchout supplier catalog. Many M-marketsite punchout suppliers have customized U-M shopping lists, favorite product lists, or hot lists that feature sustainable products.

Hosted supplier catalogs

These suppliers typically have smaller catalogs. When looking for sustainable products from hosted suppliers, select a product category (e.g., Office and Computer or Lab Supplies) and then enter the type of product you’re looking for. The search results page will display suppliers who support green purchasing practices. M-marketsite also gives you the ability to create your own favorites lists for hosted supplier catalogs. My LINC offers step-by-step quick-reference job aids and simulations.

You can help

By making small changes to your purchasing approach, your department can:

  • Stimulate market demand for greener products
  • Help the university meet its environmental goals
  • Improve worker safety and health
  • Reduce healthcare and disposal costs
  • Reduce university liabilities

Ways to Help:

  • Consolidate orders to once per week
  • Set a minimum order value of $50
  • Switch to online ordering
  • Make use of digital instead of printed catalogs
  • Buy items that contain recycled material
  • Opt for non-hazardous alternatives
  • Look for the most energy-efficient model
  • Buy locally
  • Buy only what you need
  • Spread the word about the benefits of green purchasing