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Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines for Non-Paper Office Products

EPA designated the following non-paper office products under the Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (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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Binders, Clipboards, File Folders, Clip Portfolios, and Presentation Folders

Binders, clipboards, file folders, clip portfolio, and presentation folders are commonly used office products made from a variety of materials. A loose-leaf binder contains split metal rings attached to a metal back that hold perforated sheets of paper. Chipboard, pressboard, plastic-covered chipboard or paperboard, cloth-covered chipboard or paperboard, and solid plastic binders can all be made with recovered materials. Clipboards, file folders, clip portfolios and presentation folders can be made of solid plastic containing recovered materials.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing binders, clipboards, file folders, clip portfolios and presentation folders as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Binders, Clipboards, File Folders, Clip Portfolios, and Presentation Folders ¹
Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Recovered Materials(%)
Binders- Plastic Covered
Binders- Paper Covered 



Binders - Solid plastic
Plastic -- 25-50
Paper 75-100 90-100
Pressboard 20 50
High density polyethylene 90 90
Polyethylene 30-50 30-50
Polyethylene Terephthalate 100 100
Misc. plastics 80 80
Plastic clipboards HDPE 90 90
Polystyrene 50 50
Misc. plastics 15 15-80
Plastic file folders HDPE 90 90
Plastic clip portfolios HDPE 90 90
Plastic presentation folders HDPE 90 90

¹EPA's recommendations do not preclude a procuring agency from purchasing binders, clipboards, file folders, clip portfolios or presentation folders made from another material. They simply require that procuring agencies, when purchasing these items made from the materials above, purchase them made from recovered materials when these items meet applicable specifications and performance requirements.

For more information on EPA's product research on binders, clipboards, file folders, clip portfolios, and presentation folders, please see the Technical Background for RMAN I and CPG III/RMAN III.

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Office Furniture

Office furniture includes seating, desks, storage units, file cabinets, tables and systems furniture (or "cubicles") used in virtually all federal offices. Most office furniture is made of wood or steel. Other materials used in office furniture manufacturing include polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in fabrics; plastic, which is integrated in components such as laminated work surfaces and arm rests; aluminum; particle board; and medium-density fiberboard (MDF), which is thicker than particle board. Recovered steel, aluminum, wood, agricultural fiber and plastic are used to make office furniture. Furniture also can be refurbished or remanufactured.

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

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Ranges:
Product Material Postconsumer Content(%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Furniture structure Steel 1 16 25-30
Furniture structure Aluminum -- 75-100
Cellulose Loose-Fill and Spray-On Postconsumer Paper 75 75
Particleboard/ Fiberboard component 2 Wood or wood composite
Agricultural fiber
Greater than 0


--
80-100


100
Fabric PET 100 100
Plastic furniture component HDPE 70-75 95
Remanufactured or Refurbished Furniture Various 25-75 25-75

1The recommended recovered materials content levels for steel in this table reflect the fact that the designated item is generally made from steel manufactured in a Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF). Steel from the BOF process contains 25-30 percent total recovered steel, of which 16 percent is post consumer steel.
2Particleboard and fiberboard used in the wood components of office furniture may also contain other recovered cellulosic materials, including, but not limited to, paper, wheat straw, and bagasse. The percentages of these materials contained in the product would also count toward the recovered materials content level of the item.

EPA did not identify any standards or specifications that would preclude government agencies from purchasing office furniture with recovered materials content or remanufactured or refurbished office furniture. General Services Administration (GSA) requires that remanufactured furniture meet the same Underwriters Laboratories, ASTM, and Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association standards and fire codes (Boston and California) as new furniture.

For more information on EPA's product research on office furniture, please see the Technical Background for RMAN IV.

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Office Recycling Containers and Waste Receptacles

Recycling containers and waste receptacles are used to collect and transport waste and recyclable materials in offices all across the country -- either in deskside or larger, more centralized containers. These items can be made from recovered paper, plastic or steel.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends recycled-content levels for purchasing office recycling containers and waste receptacles as shown in the table below.

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Office Recycling Containers and Office Waste Receptacles
Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Waste Receptacles Plastic 20 - 100 --
Steel1 16 25-30
Paper:
- Corrugated 25-50 25-50
- Solid Fiber Boxes 40 --
- Industrial 
Paperboard
40-80 100

1The recommended recovered materials content levels for steel in this table reflect the fact that the designated items are made from steel manufactured in a Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF). Steel from the BOF process contains 25-30 percent total recovered materials, of which 16 percent is post consumer steel.

For more information on EPA's product research on office recycling containers and waste receptacles, please see the Technical Background for RMAN I.

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Plastic Desktop Accessories

Plastic desktop accessories include desk organizers, desk sorters, desk and letter trays, and memo, note and pencil holders, as well as other items determined by the procuring agency. They are typically made from polystyrene and are manufactured by injection-molding.

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

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Plastic Desktop Accessories1
Product Material Post Consumer Content (%)
Plastic Desktop Accessories Polystyrene 25-80

1EPA's recommendation does not preclude procuring agencies from purchasing a desktop accessory manufactured from another material, such as paper, wood or steel. It simply recommends that, when purchasing plastic desktop accessories, procuring agencies purchase these items made from recovered materials.

For more information on EPA's product research on plastic desktop accessories, please see the Technical Background for RMAN I.

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Plastic Envelopes

Plastic envelopes are used in heavy-duty, security-related and other specialized mailing applications by express mail, banking, legal and other industries. They are lightweight, tear-resistant, durable, water-resistant and can be manufactured using recovered plastic.

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

Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Plastic Envelopes1, 2
Product Material Postconsumer Content (%) Total Recovered Materials Content (%)
Plastic Envelopes Plastic 25 25-35

1Paper and Paper Products
2EPA's recommendation does not preclude procuring agencies from purchasing envelopes from another material such as paper. It simply requires that a procuring agency, when purchasing plastic envelopes made from plastic, purchase these items made from recovered materials when these items meet applicable specifications and performance requirements.

GSA, the US Government Printing Office (GPO), and the US Postal Service (USPS) purchase plastic envelopes made from Tyvek® containing recovered HDPE.The Navy requests that plastic envelopes not be sent to ships in order to minimize onboard disposal of plastic.

For more information on EPA's product research on plastic envelopes, please see the Technical Background for RMAN II.

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Plastic Trash Bags

Plastic trash bags, also called trash can liners, are widely available with recovered material content including HDPE, LDPE and LLDPE. The amount of recovered materials used in the manufacturing process is prescribed by the color, size and thickness of the bag.

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

EPA's Recommended Recovered Materials Content Levels for Plastic Trash Bags ¹
Product Material Postconsumer Content(%)
Plastic Trash Bags Plastic 10-100

EPA's recommendation does not preclude procuring agencies from purchasing a trash bag manufactured using another material, such as paper. It merely recommends that procuring agencies, when purchasing plastic trash bags, purchase items made from recovered materials.

For more information on EPA's product research on plastic trash bags, please see the Technical Background for RMAN I.

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Printer Ribbons

Reinked printer ribbons are used ribbons in printer cartridges that are reinked using electromagnetic machinery. Ribbons can be reinked until they reach the end of their useful life and begin to fall apart. Reloaded printer ribbons are new fabric ribbons that are reloaded into reused cartridges when used ribbons run out of ink.

Minimum content standards are not appropriate for remanufactured items, such as printer ribbons, because a core part of the item is reused in the new product, even though certain components of a printer ribbon might contain recovered materials.

In lieu of content standards, EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends that procuring agencies adopt one or both of the following approaches:

  • Procure printer ribbon reinking or reloading services
  • Procure reinked or reloaded printer ribbons

EPA further recommends that procuring agencies establish policies that give priority to reinking or reloading their expended ribbons.

For more information on EPA's product research on printer ribbons, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN II.

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Toner Cartridges

Toner cartridges are used in laser printers, photocopiers, fax machines and microphotographic printers. When the toner cartridge is spent, it can be returned to a remanufacturer or the manufacturer to be refilled, refurbished and cleaned for resale.

EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notice (RMAN) recommends that procuring agencies establish procedures and policies that give priority to remanufacturing the agencies' expended toner cartridges. EPA recommends that, under such policies and procedures, agencies procure remanufacturing services for expended cartridges and, when such services are unavailable or not practicable, obtain remanufactured toner cartridges or new toner cartridges made with recovered materials from product vendors.

For more information on EPA's product research on printer ribbons, please see the Technical Background Document for RMAN II.

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