As of two weeks ago, the University is using recycled content paper in Ricoh multi-function printers, according to Sustainability Programs Manager Mary Fischer. This change is the result of the collective efforts of Sustainable Brandeis, Procurement and Business Services, the Staff Action Team on Climate Change, and Ricoh, per the Nov. 15 InBrief email from the Office of Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration.

W.B. Mason now delivers 30 percent recycled content paper instead of entirely non-recycled content paper, according to the same InBrief email. By using this paper on campus, the University will “reduce paper-related carbon emissions by approximately 28,000 pounds per year, in addition to saving about 5,000 gallons of water and 11 tons of wood (over one acre of trees) per year,” the email explained.

In an email to the Justice, Fischer elaborated on the environmental benefits of recycled paper, comparing the processes of producing paper from trees and from paper that has been recycled. The second process is “generally … cleaner and more efficient,” she wrote, because the fibers have already been extracted and bleached. This helps to reduce the amount of energy, water and chemicals that are used in the paper-making process, as well as to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases and pollutants released. The use of recycled paper also reduces the number of trees logged for paper production, which “leaves more trees standing” to absorb carbon dioxide, she explained.

Esther Brandon, the digital literacy specialist at the Brandeis Library, is a co-captain of the Staff Action Team on Climate Change, “a volunteer group of staff from across the Brandeis Community who come together to share ideas and resources to combat climate change” and one of the groups involved in this initiative, she explained in an email to the Justice. The SATCC includes a paper action team, founded in January 2017 and made up of members from the Office of Human Resources, the Brandeis Library, Information and Technology Services, Sustainable Brandeis and several academic administrators, according to Brandon.

Both Fischer and the SATCC have been interested in using recycled paper on campus for a while, but the initiative gained traction when the University installed new multi-function Ricoh printers across campus in September 2017. Fischer, who is also a member of SATCC, obtained reams of recycled paper, which SATCC members tested in the new Ricoh printers, per Brandon’s email.

“SATCC has always wanted to tackle paper use on campus, so when the opportunity arose to help test recycled content paper in printers, we enthusiastically jumped into the initiative,” Brandon wrote.

This initial testing, led by the paper action team, produced a “detailed quality assessment,” she explained, and the process of lobbying for the switch continued.

This October, cases of recycled paper were delivered to SATCC members’ offices to test the performance of larger amounts of the product, Brandon explained. Using the new Ricoh printers, “the recycled content paper had little to no difference in the printing quality than with regular paper,” she wrote. This round of testing found that the new Ricoh printers solved printing quality issues that had been observed in earlier rounds of testing, such as inconsistent printing results and printer jams.

Fischer also worked with Procurement and Business Services and with Ricoh to implement the initiative. According to Fisher, Procurement managed the process of purchasing the paper, working with W.B. Mason “to ensure the price was on par with other universities in the area.” Now, 30 percent recycled content paper is the University’s default for W.B. Mason deliveries, according to Brandon.  

Fischer clarified that “the higher the recycled content, the lower quality the paper, which increases possibilities of jamming in printers,” which is why the University decided on 30 percent recycled content paper for the campus-wide roll out. However, she added that the University “may be able to switch to [a] higher percentage in the future.” 

Brandon highlighted the importance of not growing complacent in countering climate change. Climate change “has dire consequences for humans and wildlife, and it is already disproportionately affecting the poorest countries in the Global South,” she wrote, adding that “being able to ignore [climate change] is an example of privilege.”