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[GreenYes] Copier Paper
Has anyone experienced a situation similar to one now facing us in Texas?  Texas recently strengthened its purchasing preference for recycled-content printing and writing paper turning a voluntary program by agency into a "soft mandate."   Under this program, agencies are required to buy recycled, but can opt out if a designated preferred product  (a) does not perform, (b) cannot be delivered in sufficient quantities or time frames, or  (c) is not competitively priced.  Opting out requires a letter to the state purchasing agency, the General Services Commission (GSC), justifying the purchase of non-recycled goods.

Not only state agencies, but also local governments and school districts buy products that are on GSC contracts, getting the State contract price for commodities without having to go through the bid process.  This would be an effective market-development program for recycled-content paper, except that Texas has a very strong purchasing preference for organizations that employ people with disabilities.  This purchasing preference virtually eliminates price competition for certain commodities through "set-aside" contracts.

One of these organizations, Texas Industries for the Blind and Handicapped (TIBH), recently began supplying the state with recycled-content copier paper through such a set-aside contract.  As a result, recycled paper that is cost-competitive on the open market now costs 15 to 20% more than its virgin counterpart on state contract.  Consequently, agencies are opting out and buying virgin paper on the basis of price.

TIBH hopes to increase their sales volume and become a converter, cutting and repackaging rolls of paper into reams with the use of a "sheeter."  Operating this equipment would help expand their labor force, which is their mission, beyond the 8 workers they currently employ simply putting their label on each ream.  A similar organization in Louisiana employs 35 vision-impaired workers in a sheeting operation using second-hand equipment with less automation than modern equipment.

Do others buy recycled-content copier paper from organizations that employ people with disabilities through similar set-aside purchasing programs?  If so, how do the prices compare to the virgin paper counterpart?  Do you have any ideas how to help such organizations contain their costs to be competitive with virgin paper?  Where do I look for used sheeters?


W Woody Raine
Recycling Markets Specialist
PO Box 13087 MC112
Austin TX 78711-3087
fax: 512/239-6763 products from Texas

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