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Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines for Construction Products

EPA designated the following construction products under the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG) program to promote the use of materials recovered from municipal solid waste (MSW). Recycled-content recommendations for each item are listed below.

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Building Insulation

Insulation made from recovered materials is available for thermal insulating applications. The product is available in several forms including rolls, loose-fill and spray foam. Insulation also can include a range of recovered materials such as glass, slag, paper fiber and plastics. One manufacturer grinds post-consumer glass bottles into a substitute for the sand used in glass fibers. Others use slag for rock wool or old newspaper for cellulose insulation.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing building insulation as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Building Insulation 1
Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Rock Wool Slag -- 75
Fiberglass Glass Cullet -- 20-25
Cellulose Loose-Fill and Spray-On Postconsumer Paper 75 75
Perlite Composite Board Postconsumer Paper 23 23
Product Sub-Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Plastic Rigid Foam,
Polyisocyanurate/Polyurethane
Rigid Foam Plastics -- 9
Foam-in-Place Plastics -- 5
Glass Fiber Reinforced Plastic/Glass -- 6
Phenolic Rigid Foam Plastics -- 5
Plastic, Non-Woven Batt -- Recovered and/or Postconsumer Plastics -- 100

1The recommended recovered materials content levels are based on the weight (not volume) of materials in the insulating core only.

Product Specifications

In 1993, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) issued a standard for the composition of cullet used in the manufacture of fiberglass insulation, D 5359, "Glass Cullet Recovered from Waste for Use in Manufacture of Glass Fiber." Exit EPA recommends that procuring agencies reference this specification in Invitations for Bid and Requests for Proposals.

For more information on EPA's Building Insulation product research, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN I.

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Carpet (Polyester)

EPA designated recycled-content polyester carpet for moderate-wear applications. Recycled fiber polyester carpet is manufactured from PET recovered soda bottles.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing carpeting as shown in the table below.

EPA's Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Carpet1
Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Polyester Carpet Face Fiber PET 25-100 25-100

1EPA recommends that, based on the recovered materials content levels shown in the table above, procuring agencies establish minimum content standards for use in purchasing polyester carpet for moderate-wear applications. This recommendation does not include polyester carpet for use in heavy-wear or severe-wear applications.

Product Specifications

Procuring agencies should also refer to GSA's minimum density recommendations, as follows:

  • Cut pile constructions: 5,000 ounces/yard3 minimum density
  • Loop pile constructions: 4,500 ounces/yard 3 minimum density

While numerous carpet specifications exist, the members of the carpet industry do not utilize any universal standards. Specifications vary and are determined based on the particular factors of the installation. The project's designer, architect, general contractor and/or facility manager typically decide the specifications. Some procuring agencies, such as the Department of the Army and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, have developed their own specifications for end-use carpet applications. These specifications should be readily available to procurement officials in those agencies.

For more information on EPA's Carpet (polyester) product research, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN I.

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Carpet Cushion

Carpet cushion, also known as carpet underlay, is padding placed beneath carpet. Carpet cushion improves the insulation properties of carpet, reduces the impact of foot traffic or furniture indentation, enhances comfort and prolongs appearance. It is available in a variety of thicknesses-the most common being ¼- and ½-inch-and is used in both residential and commercial settings. Carpet cushions made from bonded urethane, jute, synthetic fiber and rubber can be made from recovered materials.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing carpet cushion as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Carpet Cushion1
Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Bonded polyurethane Old carpet cushion 15-50 15-50
Jute Burlap 40 40
Synthetic fibers Carpet fabrication scrap -- 100
Rubber Tire rubber 60-90 60-90

1EPA's recommendations do not preclude a procuring agency from purchasing another type of carpet cushion. They simply require that procuring agencies, when purchasing bonded polyurethane, jute, synthetic fiber, or rubber carpet cushions, purchase these items made with recovered materials when these items meet applicable specifications and performance requirements. Refer to Section C-4 in RMAN I for EPA's recommendations for purchasing polyester carpet containing recovered materials.

Product Specifications

EPA is not aware of carpet cushion specifications unique to carpet cushions containing recovered materials. Therefore, EPA recommends that procuring agencies use any appropriate standards set by the Carpet and Rug Institute Exit and the Carpet Cushion Council Exit when purchasing bonded polyurethane, jute, synthetic fiber or rubber carpet cushion containing recovered materials.

For more information on EPA's product research on recovered-content latex paint, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN III.

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Cement and Concrete

Coal fly ash, ground granulated blast furnace (GGBF) slag, cenospheres and silica fumes are recovered materials that are readily available in some areas for use as ingredients in cement or concrete. Coal fly ash is a byproduct of coal burning at electric utility plants. Slag is a byproduct of iron blast furnaces. The slag is ground into granules finer than Portland cement and can be used as an ingredient in concrete. Cenospheres are small, inert, lightweight, hollow, glass spheres that are a component of coal fly ash. They can be added to cement to produce a specialty, high performance concrete. Silica fume is a waste material recovered from alloyed metal production. It can also be added to cement to produce a high performance concrete.

EPA recommends that procuring agencies prepare or revise their procurement programs for cement and concrete or for construction projects involving cement and concrete to allow the use of coal fly ash, ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBF slag), cenospheres or silica fume, as appropriate. EPA does not recommend that procuring agencies favor one recovered material over the other. Rather, EPA recommends that procuring agencies consider the use of all of these recovered materials and choose the one (or the mixture of them) that meets their performance requirements, consistent with availability and price considerations. EPA also recommends that procuring agencies specifically include provisions in all construction contracts to allow for the use, as optional or alternate materials, of cement or concrete which contains coal fly ash, GGBF slag, cenospheres or silica fume, where appropriate.

Due to variations in cement, strength requirements, costs and construction practices, EPA is not recommending recovered materials content levels for cement or concrete containing coal fly ash, GGBF slag, cenospheres or silica fume. However, EPA is providing the following information about recovered materials content.

  • Replacement rates of coal fly ash for cement in the production of blended cement generally do not exceed 20-30 percent, although coal fly ash blended cements may range from 0-40 percent coal fly ash by weight, according to ASTM C 595 Exit, for cement Types IP and I(PM). Fifteen percent is a more accepted rate when coal fly ash is used as a partial cement replacement as an admixture in concrete.
  • According to ASTM C 595 Exit, GGBF slag may replace up to 70 percent of the Portland cement in some concrete mixtures. Most GGBF slag concrete mixtures contain between 25 and 50 percent GGBF slag by weight. EPA recommends that procuring agencies refer, at a minimum, to ASTM C 595 for the GGBF slag content appropriate for the intended use of the cement and concrete.
  • According to industry sources, cement and concrete containing cenospheres typically contains a minimum of 10 percent cenospheres (by volume).
  • According to industry sources, cement and concrete containing silica fume typically contains silica fume that constitutes 5-10 percent of cementitious material on a dry weight basis.

Technical background information on cement and concrete containing coal fly ash was published in the Federal Register on January 28, 1983 (48 FR 4230) and codified at 40 CFR 247. This product designation was one of five incorporated in CPG I/RMAN I. For more information on cement and concrete containing cenospheres and silica fume, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN IV.

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Consolidated and Reprocessed Latex Paint for Specified Uses

Reprocessed paint is postconsumer latex paint that has been sorted by a variety of characteristics including type (i.e., interior or exterior), light and dark colors, and finish (e.g., high-gloss or flat). Reprocessed paint is available in various colors and is suitable for both interior and exterior applications. Consolidated paint consists of postconsumer latex paint with similar characteristics (e.g., type, color family and finish) that is consolidated at the point of collection. Consolidated paint is typically used for exterior applications or as an undercoat.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing reprocessed and consolidated latex paint for specified uses as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Reprocessed and Consolidated Latex Paints1
Product Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Reprocessed Latex Paint:
- White, Off-White, Pastel Colors 20 20
- Grey, Brown, Earth tones, and Other Dark Colors 50-99 50-99
Consolidated Latex Paint 100 100

1EPA's recommendation does not preclude agencies from purchasing paints manufactured from other, non-latex materials, such as oil-based paints. It simply recommends that procuring agencies, when purchasing latex paints, purchase these items made from postconsumer recovered materials when these items meet applicable specifications and performance requirements.

Product Specifications

EPA recommends that procuring agencies refer to GSA commercial item description (CID) A-A-3185 when purchasing recycled paint. Currently, the CID is not available electronically.

For more information on EPA's product research on recovered-content latex paint, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN II.

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Floor Tiles

Floor tiles for heavy duty or commercial specialty applications can contain up to 100 percent postconsumer rubber. They are made from used truck and airline tires.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing floor tiles and patio blocks as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Floor Tiles ¹
Product Material Postconsumer Content Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Floor Tiles
(heavy duty/commercial use)
Rubber 90-100 --
Plastic -- 90-100

1EPA clarified in the Federal Register (FR) at 62 FR 60995, November 13, 1997, that the use of floor tiles with recovered materials content might be appropriate only for specialty purpose uses (e.g., raised, open-web tiles for drainage on school kitchen flooring). Such specialty purpose uses involve limited flooring areas where grease, tar, snow, ice, wetness or similar substances or conditions are likely to be present. Thus, EPA has no recovered materials content level recommendations for floor tiles made with recovered materials for standard office or more general purpose uses.

For more information on EPA's product research on recovered-content floor tiles, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN I.

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Flowable Fill

Flowable fill is commonly used as an economical fill or backfill in road construction. It is usually a mixture of coal fly ash, water, a coarse aggregate (such as sand) and portland cement. Flowable fill can take the place of concrete, compacted soils or sand commonly used to fill around pipes or void areas. Other applications include filling in bridge abutments, foundation subbases or abandoned man holes and wells. Flowable fill can help put significant quantities of coal fly ash and spent foundry sand, two types of recovered materials, back to good use.

EPA recommends that procuring agencies use flowable fill containing coal fly ash and/or ferrous foundry sands for backfill and other fill applications. Specific content levels will depend on the specifics of the job, including the type of coal fly ash (Class C or Class F) or foundry sand used, strength, set time, flowability needed, bleeding and shrinkage.

Product Specifications

  • EPA recommends that procuring agencies use ACI229R-94 and the ASTM standards when purchasing flowable fill or contracting for construction that involves backfilling or other fill applications.
  • No national test methods or specifications exist for flowable fill mixtures containing foundry sand. Ohio has a specification entitled, "Flowable Fill Made With Spent Foundry Sand," however. In addition, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Indiana are developing specifications.

For more information on EPA's flowable fill product research, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN I.

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Laminated Paperboard

Laminated paperboard is made from one or more plies of kraft paper bonded together and is used for decorative, structural or insulating purposes. Examples include building board, insulating formboard, sheathing and acoustical and non-acoustical ceiling tile.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing laminated paperboard as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Laminated Paperboard ¹
Product Material Postconsumer Content Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Laminated Paperboard Postconsumer Paper 100 100

1The recovered materials content levels are based on the weight (not volume) of materials in the insulating core only.

Product Specifications

  • EPA recommends that procuring agencies use ASTM Standard Specification C 208 and ANSI/AHA specification A194.1.
  • In addition, EPA recommends that procuring agencies review their specifications for insulating products and revise them as necessary to obtain the appropriate "R"-value without unnecessarily precluding the purchase of products containing recovered materials.

For more information on EPA's laminated paperboard product research, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN I.

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Modular Threshold Ramps

Threshold ramps are used to modify door thresholds and other small rises to remove barriers that changes in level landing create, particularly with regards to access by people with disabilities. Modular threshold ramps are typically used for retrofitting buildings to comply with the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Modular threshold ramps made from rubber, aluminum and steel can be made from recovered materials.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing modular threshold ramps as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Modular Threshold Ramps
Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Modular Threshold Ramps Steel1 16-67 25-100
Aluminum -- 10
Rubber 100 100

1The recommended recovered materials content levels for steel in this table reflect the fact that the designated item may contain steel manufactured in either a Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) or an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF), or a combination of both. Steel from the BOF process contains 25-30 percent total recovered steel, of which 16 percent is postconsumer. Steel from the EAF process contains 100 percent total recovered steel, of which 67 percent is postconsumer. According to industry sources, modular threshold ramps containing a combination of BOF and EAF steel would contain 25-85 percent total recovered steel, of which 16-67 percent would be postconsumer. Since there is no way of knowing which type of steel was used in the manufacture of the item, the postconsumer and total recovered material content ranges in this table encompass the whole range of possibilities, i.e., the use of EAF steel only, BOF steel only, or a combination of the two. These recommendations are for modular threshold ramps. EPA understands that ramps may also be constructed of cement and concrete. For these ramps, procuring agencies should follow the procurement guidelines for cement and concrete containing recovered materials.

Product Specifications

  • Although the federal government is not governed by ADA, the Access Board's ADA standards are more current than the UFAS and are therefore generally used by federal facilities. According to the "Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities" (28 CFR Part 36), published in the Federal Register, July 26, 1991, ground and floor surfaces along accessible routes and in accessible rooms and spaces including floors, walks, ramps, stairs and curb ramps, must be stable, firm and slip-resistant. The guidelines do not define what is meant by "stable, firm, and slip-resistant," but the Access Board recommends static coefficient of friction values of 0.8 for ramps and 0.6 for accessible routes.
  • Although the federal government is not governed by the Department of Justice ADA , the ADA Access Board’s standards are useful.

For more information on EPA's modular threshold ramps product research, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN IV.

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Nonpressure Pipe

Nonpressure pipe is used throughout the United States as drainage pipe and conduit in construction, communications, municipal, industrial, agricultural and mining applications. Nonpressure pipe containing steel, plastic or cement can be made from recovered materials.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing nonpressure pipe as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content for Nonpressure Pipe
Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Non Pressure Pipe Steel1 16
67
25-30
100
HDPE 100 100
PVC 5-15 25-100
Cement Refer to the cement and concrete specifications.

1The recommended recovered materials content levels for steel in this table reflect the fact that the designated item can be made from steel manufactured in either a Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) or an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF). Steel from the BOF process contains 25-30 percent total recovered steel, of which, 16 percent is postconsumer steel. Steel from the EAF process contains a total of 100 percent recovered steel, of which, 67 percent is postconsumer steel.

Product Specifications

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Patio Blocks

Patio blocks made from 90-100 percent recovered plastic and 90 to 100 percent postconsumer rubber are used in garden walkways and trails.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing patio blocks as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Patio Blocks
Product Material Postconsumer Content Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Patio Blocks Rubber or Rubber Blends 90-100 --
Plastic or Plastic Blends -- 90-100


For more information on EPA's product research on patio blocks, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN I.

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Railroad Grade Crossing Surfaces

Railroad grade crossings are surfacing materials placed between railroad tracks, and between the track and the road at highway and street railroad crossings, to enhance automobile and pedestrian safety. Railroad grade crossings are made from recovered rubber, concrete containing coal fly ash, steel, wood or

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing railroad grade crossing surfaces as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Railroad Grade Crossings
Product Surface
Material
Recovered
Material
Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Railroad Grade Crossings Concrete Coal Fly Ash 1 -- 15-20
Rubber2 Tire rubber -- 85-95
Steel3 Steel 16
67
25-30
100
Wood4 Wood or wood composite 90-97 90-97
Plastic5 Plastic or plastic composite 85-95 100

1Coal fly ash can be used as an ingredient of concrete slabs, pavements or controlled density fill product, depending on the type of concrete crossing system installed. Higher percentages of coal fly ash can be used in the concrete mixture; the higher percentages help to produce more workable and durable product but can prolong the curing process.
2The recommended recovered materials content for rubber railroad grade crossing surfaces are based on the weight of the raw materials, exclusive of any additives such as binders or adhesives.
3The recommended recovered materials content levels for steel in this table reflect the fact that the designated items can be made from steel manufactured in either a Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) or an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF). Steel from the BOF process contains 25-30 percent total recovered materials, of which 16 percent is postconsumer steel. Steel from the EAF process contains a total of 100 percent recovered steel, of which 67 percent is postconsumer.
4Railroad grade crossing surfaces made from recovered wood may also contain other recovered materials such as plastics. The percentages of these materials contained in the product would also count toward the recovered materials content level of the item.
5Railroad grade crossing surfaces made from recovered plastics may also contain other recovered materials such as auto shredder residue, which contains a mix of materials. The percentages of these materials contained in the product would also count toward the recovered materials content level of the item.

For more information on EPA's product research on railroad grade crossing surfaces, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN I.

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Roofing Materials

A building's roof system and its finished roofing materials shield a structure's interior from natural elements. Roofing systems generally fall into two general categories: 1) high-sloped or "pitched" roofs (residential) and 2) low-sloped or flat roofs (commercial). These two types of systems generally are constructed differently and use different materials, although some materials are used for both residential and commercial systems. EPA's designation specifically covers roofing materials containing steel, aluminum, fiber, rubber, plastic or plastic composites, and cement.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing roofing materials as shown in the table below.

Recovered Materials Content Recommendations for Roofing Materials
Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Roofing Materials Steel1 16
67
25-30
100
Aluminum 20-95 20-95
Fiber (felt) for Fiber Composite 50-100 50-100
Rubber 12-100 100
Plastic or Plastic/Rubber Composite 100 100
Wood/Plastic Composite -- 100
Cement Refer to the cement and concrete specifications

1The recommended recovered materials content levels for steel in this table reflect the fact that the designated item can be made from steel manufactured in either a Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) or an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF). Steel from the BOF process contains 25-30 percent total recovered steel, of which 16 percent is postconsumer steel. Steel from the EAF process contains a total of 100 percent recovered steel, of which 67 percent is postconsumer steel.

Product Specifications

EPA recommends that procuring agencies refer to the 186 standards for roofing products maintained by ASTM's Committee D08 on Roofing, Waterproofing, and Bituminous Materials.

For more information on EPA's product research on roofing materials, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN IV.

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Shower and Restroom Dividers/Partitions

Shower and restroom dividers/partitions are made of 20-100 percent recovered plastic or steel. They are used to separate individual shower, toilet and urinal compartments in commercial and institutional facilities. EPA's designation specifically covers shower and restroom dividers/partitions containing recovered plastic or steel.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing shower and restroom dividers/partitions as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Shower and Restroom Dividers/Partitions Containing Recovered Plastic or Steel
Product Material Postconsumer Content Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Shower and Restroom Dividers/Partitions Steel1 16
67
25-30
100
Plastic 20-100 20-100

1The recommended recovered materials content levels for steel in this table reflect the fact that the designated items can be made from steel manufactured in either a Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) or an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF). Steel from the BOF process contains 25-30 percent total recovered materials, of which 16 percent is postconsumer steel. Steel from the EAF process contains a total of 100 percent recovered steel, of which 67 percent is postconsumer.

Product Specifications

EPA recommends that procuring agencies use the following specifications when procuring shower and restroom dividers/partitions:

  • The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has issued guidance for specifying construction materials, including plastic and steel dividers/partitions. The AIA guidance is known throughout the construction industry as the "Masterspec" and is available through the U.S. General Services Administration.

For more information on EPA's product research on shower and restroom dividers/partitions, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN II.

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Structural Fiberboard

Structural fiberboard is a panel made from wood, cane or paper fibers matted together which is used for sheathing, structural and insulating purposes. Examples include building board, insulating foamboard, sheathing and acoustical and non-acoustical ceiling tile.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing structural fiberboard as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Structural Fiberboard1
Product Material Postconsumer Content Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Structural Fiberboard wood wastes, bagasse (sugar cane waste), overissue newspapers and magazines, and postconsumer newspaper, corrugated, and office paper -- 80-100

1The recovered materials content levels are based on the weight (not volume) of materials in the insulating core only.

Product Specifications

EPA recommends that procuring agencies use ASTM Standard Specification C 208 and ANSI/AHA specification A194.1. EPA further recommends that, when purchasing structural fiberboard products containing recovered paper, procuring agencies should do the following:

In addition, EPA recommends that procuring agencies review their specifications for insulating products and revise them as necessary to obtain the appropriate "R"-value without unnecessarily precluding the purchase of products containing recovered materials.

For more information on EPA's product research on structural fiberboard, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN I.

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