Sustainable Clark

Paper Use

Paper usage is a way of life on campus, from tissues to cardboard, notepads to exam books; even paper reduction proposals are printed on paper. All the paper that Clark University uses is produced from trees, using vast resources of energy and water. Chlorine is used to bleach it white and other chemicals are used to produce the pulp. Paper is made all over the world, increasingly in Latin America and Asia where labor costs are low and environmental standards less stringent than in the United States. As the population at Clark increases, paper consumption is expected to grow-unless we take steps to reduce usage. We realize the impact upon the environment and are willing to accept a challenge to change our ways to reverse the increasing trend of paper consumption.


While many university and college report cards include paper as part of larger sections such as resource consumption and/or waste/recycling, the CUES Task Force Benchmark Committee felt that paper consumption was an important enough issue to address on its own. The sources and uses of paper on campus are many and some are quite difficult to quantify and monitor. The table provides an overview.

Initially, the committee wanted to gather baseline data for all paper products on campus. This task proved too large for the time and resources we had available for this initial report card, so the primary foci became the consumption of printer and copier paper, and to a lesser extent, the consumption of other institutionally provided paper such as toilet tissue and hand towels. We also examined paper recycling on campus. Our central questions were

  1. how much paper is consumed;
  2. how much recycled content paper is consumed;
  3. how much paper is recycled.

The paper usage reduction sub committee met five times over the course of the 2006-2007 academic years. Members of the committee are:

  • Paul Coute, Business Manager
  • Jody Emel, Faculty representative
  • Justin Brooks, ITS
  • Stephanie Parent, graduate student representative
  • Evan Boyd, undergraduate student representative


  • Total quantity of machine paper purchased by Clark University departments-measured in reams of paper.
  • Total quantity of recycled content machine paper purchased by Clark University departments—measured in reams of paper.
  • Total quantity of recycled content "institutional" paper purchased by Clark—measured in volume.
  • Total amount of paper recycled—measured in volume.
  • Access to recycling bins in offices, dorms, and common rooms (including classrooms and computer facilities)—measured in number of bins/room.

Graph: Paper Consumption | Graph: Tons of Paper Recycled


Printer/Copy (Machine) Paper. Fiscal year average paper consumption from 2000-2005 is 100 cases per month of acid-free, indeterminate recycled content paper. This paper is currently purchased through the stationery supplier Staples and thereby usage data is maintained by the Business Office. This is nearly 20 lbs. per person per year (based on 2006-07 faculty, staff and student populations).

Other Institutionally Provided Paper. Since March of 2005, 85 percent of toilet paper on campus is of recycled content as well as most of the paper towels and Dining Services has been using brown biodegradable napkins for at least 10 years. Approximately 1.26 million napkins were used over the past year.

Paper Recycling on Campus. The quantity of paper recycled on campus is shown below. A study by Katrina Rideout in 2005, however, shows that nearly 30 percent of the campus trash was recyclable paper and cardboard. This suggests that more recycling containers may make a difference.

Goals and Next Steps

Currently, we consume a large quantity of paper at Clark University and we are not as sustainable in this area as we could be. Producing baseline data and taking the steps outlined below will allow us to move in a more sustainable direction.

Printer/Copy (Machine) Paper

  • Measure departmental machine paper (i.e., printer, copier, and fax) consumption from June 1, 2007 to May 30, 2008 on per page basis (we have estimates of this from purchase orders).
  • Develop guides to enable users to take positive steps in reducing paper consumption.
  • Reduce departmental machine paper use by 10 percent over that period.
  • Recognize departments for achieving the goal through awards and prizes.
  • Provide departments the option to purchase all of their paper with 30 percent recycled content for all machine use starting June 1, 2007.
  • Convert all public copiers and network printers to print release stations to track print volumes and reduce unwanted print jobs for the start of the 2007-2008 academic year.

Other Institutionally Provided Paper

  • Quantify other institutional provision of paper products.
  • Convert to 100 percent materials with some recycled content.

Paper Recycling on Campus

  • Continue to measure amounts of recycled paper hauled and shredded.
  • Conduct another study of paper and cardboard in trash.
  • Provide every dorm room and office with recycling bins.


  • Generate initiatives to create a culture of environmental sustainability around paper conservation (i.e., possibly increased use of digital communications, education and training on paper formatting, increased use of electronic devices in teaching, and incentives).
  • Continue to research sources of paper and other products with lower ecological footprints

Paper Facts

  • 1 tree makes 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,333.3 sheets
  • 720 trees are harvested each year to supply printer/copy paper for Clark University
  • By using paper of 30% recycled content, only 504 trees are needed to supply Clark University with its printer/copy paper for a year.
  • Reducing copy paper consumption by 10% and by using 30% recycled content paper, only 453 trees will be cut to supply Clark University with its printer / copy paper next year

For more information please visit Conservatree