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Sustainable Purchasing

WRI strives to ensure our consumption and operations are as sustainable as possible. As such, we are working to improve our purchasing efforts world-wide to ensure that the products and services used by WRI reflect our mission and research.

To aid in this effort, WRI both advises and seeks best practices from the Sustainable Procurement Leadership Council (SPLC). Through this participation, we hope to participate in SPLC’s pilot for developing sustainable procurement programs.


Our current efforts focus on:

  • Subgrants
  • Events
  • Paper products

More Sustainable Subgrants

To learn more about the level of sustainability in our subgrantees’ operations, we have included a sustainability questionnaire in WRI’s organizational assessment packet. The Organizational Assessment is completed by all of WRI’s potential subgrant recipients, providing WRI with the necessary information about their organization in order to receive funding. This data will help WRI better engage with our subgrant recipients around operational sustainability and the roles, big or small, we can all play in reducing our impacts.


Sustainable Event Policy

To respect and reflect the needs of our changing planet and growing populations, we have adopted a primarily plant-based food for our event catering (when deemed necessary, this approach can be relaxed to promote cultural sensitivity or when faced with limited availability). When visiting WRI for an event, plan on some creative and delicious vegetarian food!

To maximize the benefits of our catering efforts, we prioritize caterers who:

  • Use locally-produced and organic ingredients
  • Implement energy, water, and waste reduction efforts in their operations
  • Contribute back to our shared local communities through excess food donations or other social benefit programs.

We also strive to minimize waste produced at WRI events by:

  • Limiting physical handouts and publications
  • Minimize packaging waste from food deliveries and providing reusable/compostable serving platters and utensils.
  • Utilizing single-stream recycling

WRI’s Global Paper Purchasing Principles

After testing samples of paper used in WRI’s offices and finding potentially-controversial products, WRI is reassessing our paper purchasing approach. For all offices, we will integrate the following best practices into our operations:

Step 1: Minimize our overall consumption of paper products and maximize recycling;

Step 2: Purchase paper products that are considered environmentally and socially responsible, where:

  • Raw materials are sourced responsibly in a transparent manner, originating from legally and responsibly managed forests;
  • Final products are sustainably and responsibly produced - (1) Contain high levels of appropriately used recycled content; (2) Reduced outputs of harmful pollution by using safer manufacturing methods; and (3) Manufactured by companies with strong commitments to sustainable production and operations

We also prioritize:

  • The purchase of products that have received independent, 3rd party verification for the attributes listed above to support the need for supply chain transparency and accountability;
  • The purchase of domestic products to support regional sustainability and reduce the impacts from transportation in a complex supply chain;

Step 3: Communicate these principles across our network to promote the adoption of best practice paper purchasing

WRI’s DC Office

To be ambitious in our DC office, we set the following criteria:

  1. Must be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), prioritizing those certified in the United States. At minimum, the certification MUST provide information about the percent of certified material in the product, supporting the need for full transparency along the supply chain. Preference is given to products with 100% certified material, when available.
  2. Contains a higher content of post-consumer recycled content than recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency
  3. Does not use any chlorine or chlorine-derivative during bleaching (process chlorine free, total chlorine free, or enhanced elemental chlorine free)
  4. Produced by companies that have set public targets or goals around environmental and/or social performance and publically report progress

Additionally, we prioritize the purchase of products that are:

  • Domestically produces to support regional environmental and social health
  • 3rd party certified and verified by a reputable body for any of the above criteria.

We engaged directly with our chosen vendors to identify which products we currently use that meet the paper procurement criteria and replacements for the products that do not. This helped us realize that it is harder to meet all the criteria for certain paper categories than others. In response, we are continuing to improve our procurement and maintain up-to-date criteria.

Expanding to Our Other Offices

We are currently investigating the local availability for paper purchasing as well as regional priorities and concerns for paper purchasing in other countries with WRI offices. We will then adopt ambitious approaches in each office for meeting WRI’s global paper purchasing principles.

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