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Cornell, Ithaca Form Green Purchasing Consortium

February 28, 2008

Source: Ithaca Journal

Cornell University has joined Tompkins County, the City of Ithaca and five other educational institutions and governmental agencies to form the Finger Lakes Environmentally Preferred Procurement Consortium, New York’s first “green” consortium to purchase environmentally preferable products.  The other four members of the consortium are Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce and Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

“This purchasing consortium is a great example of local governments working collectively with the educational institutions and local municipalities,” said Cheryl Nelson, chairperson of the Tompkins County sustainability team. “It is a perfect match for the county as it coincides with our own team's goals of promoting sustainability within the county.”

The consortium will be able to use Cornell's connections to manufacturers to bypass working with sales representatives, according to County Finance Director David Squires. He added that Cornell “generously brought (the county) into negotiations with the vendors.”

Edmund Wilson, manager of procurement services at Cornell, said the consortium will concentrate on environmentally friendly cleaning products, paper and office supplies. Wilson said the goal of the consortium is to buy sustainable on all levels—buying not just recycled products but also buying local and even attracting vendors to Tompkins County to build infrastructure there.

Barbara Eckstrom, Tompkins County Solid Waste manager says “As one of our waste reduction strategies, along with the traditional three R's (reduce, reuse and recycle), we have introduced a fourth R — re-buy — encouraging the purchase of products that have environmentally preferable attributes. Specifying recycled content in products increased manufacturing demand for recycled products and stimulates the use of a wide variety of recovered materials.”  Kat McCarthy, coordinator of the consortium, adds that the consortium’s efforts will help create a market for such products and thereby reduce costs for everyone.

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