Whereas green certifications looking at the life cycle impacts of production have long been important to facility managers, sourcing is a topic that has more recently gained steam. Purchasers can now look for FSC chain of custody certification, which impacts processing, manufacturing and distribution.

Distributors are no different from retail outlets in that they sell FSC-labeled tissue, toilet paper and office paper. However, if a facility executive needs third-party verification that a product is FSC certified, the chain of custody (COC) needs to remain intact, says Kahn.

“For example, if the manager is operating a building to LEED Existing Building standards and is getting credit for the use of FSC-labeled products, or the corporate social responsibility report includes audited information about FSC products used in operations, then the COC needs to be intact,” he says.

Managers that need assistance on what each certification or standard means, or how to be compliant, should turn to their distributor, Schneringer says. But there are other resources available, too. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s comprehensive procurement guidelines, for instance, provide information on recycled products. And updated information on certified products is always available through Green Seal or ECOLOGO.

Facility managers have been showing more interest in the FSC, Schneringer says, thanks to the inclusion of FSC-certified wood in the latest LEED rating system.

“It’s interesting that even facilities that might not be pursuing LEED certification are still adopting requirements of the program in their purchasing standards,” he says.

Future Trends

Toilet tissue has gone coreless — and success in the commercial sector is now spilling over into the consumer sector with campaigns marketing coreless rolls hitting mainstream America. But experts don’t see coreless paper towels happening anytime soon.

“Center-pull rolls end up without a core, but most roll towels that spin in a roll towel cabinet have some form of cardboard core that rides the outer spindles of the towel dispenser,” says Moody.

Some cores are notched on one or both ends, signaling they are proprietary to specific dispensers, ensuring continued paper business for those designated dispensers.

Paper towel cores may be here to stay, but the packaging on the outside of the roll could stand to get a greener makeover. It’s not common for rolls to be individually wrapped, and packaging in that regard has always been minimal in the commercial and institutional sectors. More cartons are being made out of recovered and recycled material, as well, says Chipperfield.

Moody advises department managers to pay attention to the specs of the boxes they’re ordering, so they get the greenest packaging ratio available.

Composting of waste on a large scale at office buildings, schools, and even as part of municipal operations is beginning to take off. While most operations focus on food waste, some paper waste can be incorporated into the compost.

“Facilities are incorporating paper towel waste into their compost streams in order to decrease the amount of waste they’re generating,” Schneringer says. “Not only are departments interested in sourcing more sustainable alternatives to paper, but they’re looking to incorporate that into a waste diversion program.”

Facility cleaning managers should keep their eyes on emerging trends so they can be ready to implement products and practices that have less impact on the environment while still being a great choice for the facility, Chipperfield says.

“There really are products that can meet any need and still be a sustainable product,” she says.
LISA RIDGELY is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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