Steps for Success

Changing to new products and purchasing practices can take time. Businesses and government agencies that have successfully changed to buying more environmentally friendly products have found that including those who use the products in the decision-making process and being willing to retest as new brands and types of products become available helped make it easier.

Success Story: Alameda County

How They Did It:

  • In 2003, the County released a bid for recycled content papers as well as virgin paper. The General Services Agency set up a master contract with pricing for all of the County agencies and departments to use. Under this contract, use of recycled content paper was not mandated, and was slightly higher in cost, so not as many agencies/departments purchased it as expected.
  • In 2006, they followed in the footsteps of the federal government and used the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines to set minimum recycled content requirements. They offered agencies a choice of 30% and 100% recycled content papers at very competitive prices.
  • By 2014, all printers and copiers in Alameda County facilities are stocked with 100% postconsumer recycled content papers. All County agencies are required to buy their office paper off this contract, which helps ensure the best price possible.


A few employees were concerned that recycled paper might not perform as well or might cause problems in their equipment. To date, no equipment issues have been reported, and employees are satisfied with paper quality. See the full success story on the Alameda County General Services Agency purchasing website.