Green's a good buy at campus trade show
The eco-ethic was everywhere you looked in the Ackerman Grand Ballroom on March 3, where 92 preferred vendors and suppliers showed off their latest products for the well-equipped campus office or lab.
The newest and greenest of these hundreds of products were displayed before more than 1,000 people who attended the annual UCLA Alliance Supplier and BruinBuy Trade Show. Browsers scrutinized products like a color printer that operates on a Crayon-ish block of solid ink (no more toner cartridges), and carpets woven from recycled plastic bottles and backed with a layer of recycled tires.
"Green" was everywhere to be seen – on sales brochures, giveaway bags, banners, signs, posters and business cards – to promote eco-friendly office chairs, floor mops, printing services, restroom cleaning supplies, energy-efficient biosafety lab cabinets and recyclable pipette cases.
"Green is the hot topic for these companies," said Tyrone Habrich, manager of Strategic Sourcing, part of UCLA Campus Purchasing. This was the third consecutive year that Strategic Sourcing hosted the trade show that put the spotlight on sustainability. "This year almost every company has some products with a green theme. A few years ago, only 10 companies had a green story to tell. Now almost everyone does."
Along with pricing, service and quality, sustainability is one of the factors Strategic Sourcing evaluates when determining which suppliers are awarded long-term agreements with the campus.
That blend of factors seems to reflect how UCLA shoppers approach the products they're thinking of purchasing.
"Green is a buzzword that's catching on with consumers," said Eugene Jacobowitz, general manager for KST Data Inc., which sells computers to the campus. "But it's not always the first thing that comes to mind." Working with the top e-waste recycling company in the state, KST helped UCLA recycle more than 1,000 computers left behind when the old medical center closed. That included shredding the hard drives to make sure no information was compromised, separating out the glass, plastic and metals for recycling, and handling the complex paperwork required.
It may not be the only factor buyers are weighing, said Jon Nekovar, account executive for Waxie Sanitary Supply, "but people are asking a lot of questions about it." Waxie sells eco-janitorial products such as soy-based cleaning products, biodegradable degreasers and a green mop. The mop head is woven from recycled plastic bottles and attached to a handle made out of bamboo.
The stream of new green products flowing from suppliers' trucks and onto the campus continues to widen. Office chairs that are 97% recyclable have gone into the James West Alumni Center and Anderson's Rosenfeld Library. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as the Anderson School can now boast of having Xerox's solid-ink color printer, which uses no toner cartridges, thus freeing up storage space and plastic.
The change doesn't stop with offices and classrooms. At Dykstra Residence Hall, Ecoworx carpeting made out of recycled carpet fibers, lines the corridors. And so many UCLA customers have switched to 30% recycled paper when ordering new business cards printed with 100% vegetable oil-based ink that one printer, Castle Press, estimates 126 trees have been saved in their shop alone.
In fact, green is so much an integral part of so many products these days, one vendor commented, "you may not even realize you bought something that's good for the environment."