The Province of Antwerp wants to buy sustainable 80 g/m² paper for high volume copiers and multifunctionals in formats A4 and A3.
Besides realising massive savings in paper use (%), the Province of Antwerp wants to buy sustainable paper for the remaining needs , suitable for the printing equipment deliverable to all entities throughout the province. Environmental criteria had already been developed in consultation with the Logistics Department, the Environment Department and with the communication service (main purchaser) and were included in the technical requirements of the framework tender. The ecological technical requirements, concerning fibres, bleaching and chemical substances were based on criteria in ecolabels like Blue Angel, European Ecolabel, Nordic Swan, FSC recycled (Not all criteria can be proved by every label.)…
• 100 % recycled (preferably postconsumer)
• Unbleached or chlorine-free bleached (TCF or PCF)
• Without optical brightening agents.
• Without synthetic polymers, adhesives, coatings or colouring agents which are classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction or harmful to the environment.
There were no additional environmental award criteria included, just price and test results of the provided samples.

Resources needed

Time and skilled staff.

Evidence of success

A paper was chosen complying with all requirements and passing the tests on the devices.
The requirements account for energy efficiency and resource use making for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. By using this paper at least 813 000 liter water and 178 860 kWh was saved in 2016 .
Establishing high environmental performance standards for products.

Difficulties encountered

Combining whiteness CIE 140 desired by the Communication Service with the ecological requirement ‘Without optical brightening agents’.

Finding 100% recycled paper suitable for high volume copiers (multifunctionals were no problem).

Delivery of smaller amounts than per palet to some entities.

Potential for learning or transfer

This is easily transferable to other organisations. Needs addressed are common among sectors, organisations and different regions/countries. Low implementation risks and low risk of organizational resistance.

Communication on the benefits of the framework contract is important. Internal audits in the frame of the ISO14001-certificate showed that when paper was bought through other channels, mandatory criteria were mostly not respected.

It might be interesting to split the tender into paper for multifunctionals and paper for high volume copiers instead of trying to find a one-fits-all paper.

The level of whiteness should be discussed with the Communication Service, because it influences look and feel less than presumed.

Key enablers: clear definition of green criteria (within the tendering process), availability of products.
Main institution
Provincie Antwerpen
Prov. Antwerpen, Belgium (Belgique-België)
Start Date
October 2017
End Date


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Monika Zielińska

Lodzkie Region