Janitorial Supplies

Description of Environmental Purchasing Policy

This section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy covers the Purchasing Services Janitorial commodity cluster, setting guidelines for cleaning supplies and janitorial paper products. By choosing environmentally preferable cleaning supplies, purchasers can avoid contributing to toxic runoff and environmental health hazards; purchasing environmentally preferable paper products helps to minimize both deforestation and waste. 

The Environmental Purchasing Policy states that all cleaning supplies should adhere to the Green Seal Enviromental Standard GS-37 for Institutional and Industrial Cleaners.  Green Seal is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to setting environmental standards  and certifying products to facilitate environmentally responsible decision-making by creating consumer awareness.  Standard GS-37 states that cleaning products should be sufficiently effective without being toxic to human health or the aquatic environment. 

In addition, purchasers are strongly encouraged to utilize efficient cleaning supplies that require minimal use, thereby reducing volume, waste, and cost, and to procure cleaning supplies that contain none of the toxins listed on the NYC Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Guide Toxic Constituent Target List. Finally, purchasers are encouraged to purchase cleaning supplies with bio-based solvents rather than petroleum-based materials. 

Janitorial paper products should adhere to the Green Seal Environmental Standards GS-9 and GS-01 for Paper Towels and Napkins, and for Tissue Paper.  These standards require that paper products be made from 100% recycled content, that bathroom tissue contain at least 20% post-consumer waste, and that paper towels contain at least 40% post-consumer waste.

Using energy-efficient air-dryers in bathrooms instead of paper towels presents a waste-reducing alternative to buying this product. The substantial amount of paper saved and the significant minimization of waste outweigh the consequences of increased energy usage.

What to Consider When Purchasing Janitorial Supplies

For cleaning supplies:

Toxins: As mentioned above, all cleaning supplies purchased should avoid the toxins listed on the NYC Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Guide Toxic Constitutent Target List. Some toxins commonly found in cleaning supplies are: heavy metals, such as lead and chromium; chlorinated hydrocarbons; Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), such as Benzene and Xylene; and Ozone-Depleting Compounds (ODCs), such as Carbon Tetrachlorid Chloroform.   The Green Seal Standard GS-37 for Industrial Cleaners also limits the VOCs allowed in a product, and prohibits ODCs.  Look for these toxins in the contents of any cleaning supplies you puchase, and avoid them whenever possible.  Also, if you are not buying the cleaning products  for your building, office, or department directly, but rather receiving them through a contract with an outside vendor, talk to that vendor about the types of cleaning supplies they use, and indicate your strong preference for environmentally preferable products. 

For paper products:

 Recycled content versus post-consumer waste:  The Environmental Purchasing Policy requires that all paper products be made from 100% recycled content, with bathroom tissue containing at least 20% post-consumer waste, and paper towels containing at least 40% post-consumer waste.  Post-consumer waste is one type of recycled content; the term refers specifically to waste that has come from a discarded end product that has already been used, rather than from industrial scrap or manufacturing waste.  

Suggested Vendors

For a comprehensive list of Green Seal certified cleaning products and their sources, visit this website.  For a comprehensive list for Green Seal certified paper products and their sources, visit this one.

It is likely that your current janitorial supply vendor already has sustainable product offerings – ask them whether they use products from the lists above, and indicate your preference for these products.  If your current supplier does not have any sustainable offerings, the American Cleaning Services’ Focus line of goods is an excellent option, as would many of the other companies listed on the above websites.  You can find more information on the New York City-manufactured Focus line  here.  

Additional Resources and Information

Green Seal Standard GS-37 for Institutional and Industrial Cleaners

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Guide Toxic Constitutent Target List

 

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