Environmental advice on specific product groups
The simplest way of choosing environmentally sound products is to get help from environmental labelling (ecolabelling). Various product categories are listed, with buying advice for ecofriendly purchasing, below.
The purchasing advice has also been compiled in a separate document.
Vehicles: buying, leasing and hiring
In Sweden today, vehicles bought, leased or hired by state agencies are required to meet certain environmental and safety criteria. These requirements are implemented in the University’s activities pursuant to UFV 2010/1647, ‘Guidelines for purchase, leasing and use of service vehicles’ (Riktlinjer för köp, leasing och användning av tjänstebilar, in Swedish only).
Growing flowers — floriculture — requires a great deal of energy and water. Conventional market gardens in developing countries often use chemicals that are banned in Europe. The workers suffer from insecure employment situations, low salaries and health problems due to the use of chemicals.
New labelling for cut flowers and potted plants
For cut flowers and potted plants, there is a relatively new label: Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP). FFP labelling means that the floriculture has taken place in a way that mitigates the impact both on human beings and on the environment.
There are also Fairtrade-certified roses. While promoting organic production, Fairtrade is also about the farm labourers’ working conditions.
Dutch flowers can be certified with the MPS-A ecolabel.
Insist on ecolabelled and nationally or locally grown flowers
When you buy cut flowers and potted plants, try to demand those with FFP, Fairtrade or MPS-A certification. Alternatively, ask for Swedish or locally grown flowers. In the spring season in Sweden, KRAV-labelled tulips and tulips with Svenskt Sigill certification, i.e. meeting the independent IP standard for food and flowers, are available. Swedish roses can be purchased all the year round.
Catering and food orders
What we eat and drink affects the environment in many ways. There are various significant factors, such as how far the food we eat has been transported; growing conditions (presence of fertilisers, chemical pesticides etc.); and which fish and meat we select (beef has a greater environmental impact than chicken, lamb and venison, and meat from livestock kept in natural conditions in Sweden helps to keep the landscape open).
State wishes when ordering
In catering and ordering of food, you can make various requests to the restaurant or catering firm regarding the food to be served. For an ecofriendlier meal, you could request:
- tap water and water carbonated on the premises; no bottled water
- organic and Fairtrade-certified coffee and tea
- organic and/or locally produced fruit
- no serving of fish threatened by overfishing or red-listed in the WWF’s sustainable seafood guide for Sweden (in Swedish only)
- meat that is green-listed in the WWF´s sustainable meat guide (in Swedish only)
- locally produced and seasonal food and beverages; Swedish raw materials are always worth seeking out
and you could
- ask about the possibility of getting a vegetarian meal that can suit everyone
- express the wish that no disposable material, single-use crockery etc. be used unless absolutely necessary.
Sometimes disposable products, such as single-use crockery and cutlery, are needed in activities. Choose ecofriendly materials — paper, wood or bioplastic made of corn starch — in preference to plastic disposables.
Many departments or equivalent subscribe to fruit baskets. It is preferable to choose a fruit basket that contains organically grown fruit and adapts the selection according to the season. Organic fruit-growing means that fertilisers and chemical pesticides are not permitted in cultivation.
You should also, where possible, choose locally grown or Swedish fruit.
The ecolabelling used for fruit are KRAV (for organic produce) and Fairtrade (taking social factors into consideration).
Vending machines for beverages, sweets, sandwiches etc.
Vending machines for food and beverages operate to full capacity round the clock. The amount of electricity used by a vending machine mainly determines the environmental impact from its use and its operating cost.
Compare various vending machines’ electricity use and choose an energy-saving machine.
Hotels and conference centres
Hotels and conference centres chosen can have a major bearing on the environmental impact to which hotel stays and/or conferences give rise.
State wishes when booking
For an environmentally sound stay or conference:
- Choose hotels and conference centres that are accessible by public transport.
- Choose facilities that carry out active environmental work — that are, for example, environmentally certified according to ISO 14001, the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), the Nordic Ecolabel (Svanen, ‘The Swan’) or the EU Ecolabel.
- Make requests to the hotel or conference centre at the time of booking, use this annex while booking as help to make demands (only in Swedish).
IT hardware (computers, monitors, printers, copiers), white goods
Every year, the University purchases a large quantity of IT equipment and other office machines. The environmental impact of IT hardware and office machines, in life-cycle terms, is composed largely of their use of energy during the use phase.
In planning the purchase of IT equipment, life-cycle cost — the total cost of a product throughout its life cycle — is a useful aid. Taking life-cycle cost into account, a product with a high purchase price and low energy use may be more advantageous in aggregate economic terms than a low-cost product with high energy use. Moreover, a low-energy product has less environmental impact.
Energy use in standby mode and full-capacity operation
When life-cycle cost is used to assess electronic products, it is important to take into consideration their energy use both in standby mode and in full-capacity operation. Life-cycle cost is particularly relevant in purchases of products with high energy use, such as laboratory freezers and some IT products.
Ecolabelling for IT equipment
For IT hardware, such as computers, monitors, printers and copiers, guidance is available through the Nordic Ecolabel (Svanen, ‘The Swan’), EU Ecolabel, Energy Star (energy efficiency) and TCO (quality and environmental impact).
Ecolabelling for white goods
White goods are energy-labelled, A+++ being the highest rating.
When electronic products are purchased, brominated flame retardants should be avoided. Ask about this before buying if you can.
The University’s product web
The University’s product web contains both environmentally ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ products. It may be difficult to find ecolabelled products among those listed in the ‘product web’. It is advisable to get help from your computer manager, the environmental coordinator or the IT department to find the environmentally best products in their respective categories.
Coffee and tea
Coffee selection is often governed by flavour, price and habit. For coffee purchasing, there are two forms of ecolabelling for your guidance: KRAV (in terms of organic production methods) and Fairtrade (labelling for social considerations). Today, organic coffee is available from all coffee suppliers. Several kinds of coffee are labelled with both KRAV and Fairtrade.
A very large selection of teas with KRAV labelling and Fairtrade certification is available.
The framework agreements used by the University in sourcing office materials contain a wide range of materials to choose from. Ecolabelling is highly beneficial.
Besides the usual ecolabelling systems, several suppliers of office materials have their own internal ecolabels. It is advisable to ask what these labels mean and what distinguishes them from established ecolabels such as the Nordic Ecolabel (Svanen, ‘The Swan’) and the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC).
Notepaper (academic and other notepads, flip charts etc.)
Choose ecolabelled paper (the Nordic Ecolabel Svanen, ‘The Swan’). Avoid paper that is coloured, waxed, laminated or covered with glue that is water-insoluble, since all these make recycling harder.
Choose ecolabelled pens (the Nordic Ecolabel Svanen, ‘The Swan’) for writing on a whiteboard or flip chart and highlighting. Refillable pens are a good option. If disposable pens are needed, choose those with the pen body made of recycled paper, or a ballpoint pen in recovered polypropylene. The company Svenskt Arkiv’s ballpoint pen is an example of one with the pen body made of recycled material.
Files are available in recycled materials — both recycled paper and recovered polypropylene. Ask for these when you make purchases.
In purchasing copy paper, one must take several factors into account: quality, function, price and environmental impact. Ecolabels are the simplest way to ensure that paper is environmentally sound.
The ecolabels Nordic Ecolabel (Svanen, ‘The Swan’) and EU Ecolabel are used for copy paper. Paper can also be labelled as TCF (Totally Chlorine-Free), which means that the paper has been bleached entirely without chlorine. It is advisable to ask whether the paper comes from sustainable forestry, i.e. FSC-certified forests, or is recycled.
For copy paper there is also Paper Profile, the environmental product declaration for paper production. Since this is not a form of ecolabelling, the manufacturers do not need to meet specific emission requirements etc. Instead, Paper Profile reports only on the emissions, energy use etc. to which the paper production has given rise.
The easiest way to make sure envelopes are environmentally sound is to choose those with an ecolabel. The Nordic Ecolabel (Svanen, ‘The Swan’) means that a third party has examined the product with respect to its environmental impact throughout its life cycle, from raw material to waste.
Choose address labels with water-based adhesives.
Environmentally labelled furniture is beginning to be increasingly common on the market. The ecolabel that is used for furniture, and may be requested, is the Nordic Ecolabel (Svanen, ‘The Swan’). For textiles, the ecolabelling systems used are Svanen, Bra Miljöval (‘Good Environmental Choice’) and EU Ecolabel.
For textiles, a relatively new labelling system exists: the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This label entails requirements that fabric should contain a minimum of 95% organic materials and that responsibility, both environmental and social, has been exercised in its production.
Textiles and fabric products can also be labelled with Bra Miljöval, the Nordic Ecolabel (Svanen, ‘The Swan’), EU Ecolabel, KRAV and Fairtrade.