Buy It Again !
Newsletter of the New Jersey Buy Recycled Business Network –Winter, 1998

Buying Recycled: A Purchasing Manager’s View 

By Joseph A. Verga, C.P.M.
Bell Atlantic

The success of any Buy Recycled program hinges on the support provided by the company’s purchasing department. Before we seek that support, it is important that we understand the primary focus of purchasers and what they need to be successful. In so doing, we create an atmosphere of shared interests and cooperation.

Purchasing managers have the responsibility of reducing the corporate bottom line costs by finding the best products and services from the best vendors at the best price. With hundreds of products to address, most purchasing managers have their hands full just meeting the demands of their routine workload.

The process that guides the typical purchasing manager is fairly basic. A request for a product comes from engineering or some other client within the company. This request contains specifications that identify all the requirements the product must meet. The purchaser identifies those vendors that can provide the product as specified and, of those, determines which is the best vendor at the best price.

Those of us who are responsible for Buy Recycled programs are usually not the requesting clients or purchasing managers. Our focus is generally on achieving environmental responsibility and searching for creative solutions to problems perceived in the manufacturing process. We have some knowledge of the economic impact and performance reliability for products that are made from recycled materials and we can estimate the economic impact these products can have on the corporate bottom line. With this information, we can and should assume the responsibility to coordinate communications between clients and purchasing managers and show them how Buy Recycled initiatives can contribute to the economic as well as environmental success of everyone involved.

The most successful approach to introducing products made with recycled content begins with you, as the buy recycled coordinator. You must know the product you are promoting. Gather as much information as you can. Ask about reliability, suggested price, availability, and references of others that have used the product. Determine if the supplier is willing to participate in a trial of the product in your company so that product claims can be verified.

Once you have gathered your information, share it with the client group that will be using the product. Show them the benefits of using this recycled product, especially cost savings and reliability. Promote the product and participate in a trial with the client. Once the clients have confidence in the product and see its economic benefits, they will specify the product in their purchasing requirements.

Getting Started

The first three steps toward establishing a Buy Recycled program involve an analysis of current purchasing practices:

Step 1. Review current purchases to determine what recycled products are already being purchased.

Step 2. Examine product specifications to determine if the maximum amount of recycled material (including post-consumer material) is being purchased.

Step 3. Examine product and contract lists to determine where recycled products can be substituted for virgin products or included in future bids.

(Source: Buy Recycled Training Manual, Maryland Environmental Services, 410-974-7254)

The Net on the Net

The New Jersey Buy Recycled Business Network (Network) is on line! In order to promote the efforts of the Network and its member companies, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has added a link on its website for the Network. The address of the NJDEP website is ../recycle. Hyper-links to member company websites and/or e-mail addresses, where available, are also incorporated into the NJDEP website. Expansion of the Network link to include information about upcoming meetings, events and more is planned. Please direct any ideas that you may have for the New Jersey Buy Recycled Business Network link to Steven Rinaldi of the NJDEP at 609-984-3438. Technical questions pertaining to the website should be directed to Vince Cannuli, NJDEP, Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste Webmaster, at 609-984-3438.

Recycled Content Office Furniture Wins NJDEP Award

Signature Woodworking, Inc. of Vineland, New Jersey, one of the "Top 100 Woodworking Companies in America" according to Wood & Wood Products Fifth Annual Report, has developed a new line of office furniture made with recycled content. John Bonato, the company’s owner and Master Craftsman, has paired Environ - a fine textured and durable material made from soy flour, recycled newspapers and plant protein resin - and Wheat Board - a composition of wheat, straw and plant resin - to create several unique pieces of executive office furniture. Signature Woodworking, Inc. was presented with an award in 1997 for outstanding achievement in recycling by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and with a Recycling Excellence Award by the Cumberland County Improvement Authority. For further information about this innovative recycled content furniture, please call Signature Woodworking at 609-794-8856.

Did You Know…

  • In 1989, The Official Recycled Products Guide (800-267-0707) had 176 listings. Today, the guide contains 5,000 listings in 900 categories!
  • The jogging track at the White House was constructed with recycled rubber from scrap tires and windshield gaskets!
  • BBB Plastic Lumber of South Amboy, New Jersey (732-721-8160), operates the nation’s first all recycled plastic lumberyard!
  • Recycled paper works fine in all Xerox and Hewlett-Packard office machines!
  • As of autumn, 1997, McDonald’s reached a total of $2 billion in purchases of recycled content goods!

Recycled Content Carpet Closes the Loop

Collins & Aikman floorcoverings of Dalton, Georgia, manufactures a carpet that is not only made with recycled material but can be recycled after its useful life. The company’s Powerbond ER3 RS carpet is a dense, low-pile carpet that has a 100% recycled content backing that results in an overall 28% to 52% total recycled content carpet. The backing of the carpet is made from reclaimed vinyl-backed, soft-surface floorcovering and other post-consumer/post-industrial plastics, including reclaimed Powerbond carpet and Collins & Aikman’s own manufacturing waste. Through this closed loop system, Collins & Aikman is able to recycle up to 75 million pounds of carpet per year. Powerbond ER3 RS carpeting is available in six-foot rolls and modular tile and comes with a 15-year non-prorated warranty. For further information, contact John W. Farr, Account Manager for Collins & Aikman, at 609-786-4071.


New Jersey Buy Recycled Business Network
Joseph Verga, Bell Atlantic – Co-Chair
Steven Rinaldi, NJDEP, Bureau of Recycling and Planning – Co-Chair, 609-984-3438

Editor: Steven Rinaldi