University Provost Amy Gutmann approved a policy on Monday to switch all office-use paper to 100 percent post-consumer waste (PCW) recycled materials on April 1, up from the current 42 percent PCW paper.
The policy was advocated by the Princeton Environmental Oversight Committee, a group established by President Tilghman in 2002 to monitor the University's relationship with the environment.
According to many of the people involved in the passage of the policy, the move to all recycled paper is a small but important step for campus environmental policy, and will raise awareness for other issues Greening Princeton — the main student group pushing for the change — is pursuing.
The University is ahead of the pack in adopting the 100 percent PCW recylced paper.
It is, in fact, one of the first academic institutions in the country to make the switch, said Ilya Fischoff GS, a member of Greening Princeton. Most other colleges and universities purchase 30 percent PCW paper.
The administration readily made the switch to the new paper because it would incur no new cost, said Jayatri Das GS, a member of Greening Princeton.
"The best part of this policy is that it's cost neutral and that's why the policy won out," Das said.
Fischoff said that students from the group urged University purchasing departments and the PEOC to determine whether using recycled paper was a feasible option.
"It seemed an important issue for the University to get involved with," he said.
University purchasing department director Don Weston, who was involved in the switch from the beginning, conducted a survey of departmental paper use.
He found that while a few departments, including OIT, the University's largest purchaser, had already switched, most knew little about the availability and performance of recycled paper.
With the aid of student groups, Weston conducted a series of blind tests to find if recycled paper was comparable in quality to standard paper.
"We did a lot of blind tests comparing 100 percent recycled paper to the 30 percent recycled paper used in the past as the national standard," Das said. "We recorded any differences in performance after observing the results of the blind tests."
The results were encouraging, Das said. Few people could tell the difference between the two paper samples.
Despite the final result, getting the administration to consider the change was a tough process, Das said.
"There were a lot of people asking, 'Why do we need to change? What is the point when the old paper works fine?'" Das said. "That was the reason for the blind tests."
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