Every year, N.C. State University conducts over $400 million worth of purchasing. By design, the purchasing across campus is decentralized, because there are so many unique departments across the university. This method of purchasing makes tracking the products being purchased difficult, and it makes educating buyers difficult as well.
The Purchasing Department handles all purchases over $5,000, which require a competitive bid process. Purchasers have to purchase from state contract, unless they find the same item at a lower price elsewhere. The state contract system, managed by the NC Division of Purchase and Contract, enhances the buying power of state agencies because these state contracts allow the university to purchase from vendors at a rate reduced from retail.
For purchasers who are concerned about purchasing environmentally-preferable goods, the DPPEA’s Environmentally Preferable Procurement, the NC Division of Purchase and Contract, NC E-procurement and NC Project Green have resources on their websites to guide buyers. Obsolete or unneeded equipment, furniture and supplies from various departments are sent to NC State Surplus Property, and other departments and agencies or the general public can all obtain these surplus supplies.
While the federal government sets guidelines for spending money on environmentally-preferable products, state and local agencies do not have to adhere to these policies. North Carolina state agencies are required to follow Executive Order 156, which includes requirements for purchasing environmentally-preferable products. The order also contains guidelines for environmental sustainability and solid waste reduction. NC General Statute 143-58 specifies that state agencies shall use or require use of products with recycled content and eliminate procedures that inhibit such purchases.
If state and local government agencies pledge to purchase environmentally-preferable products, the price of these goods will decrease, and markets will be created for collected recyclables.