A Methodology for Calculating the Fiber Footprint of a Large Organization : A Case Study of Penn State University

The sustainability of an organization cannot exceed that of its supply chain. This realization has led many organizations to consider how procurement functions can impact sustainability of operations. Metrics to evaluate sustainability performance of procurement outcomes often focus on reducing overall material purchases and purchasing products having third-party certifications. Such metrics have limited utility for assessing environmental impact of purchasing decisions. The poster would introduce the concept of a fiber footprint, which represents the forested land area needed to sustainably meet an organization’s demand for fiber based on its paper consumption. This research seeks first to develop a methodology for measuring fiber footprints in higher education institutions and to demonstrate its application through a case study analysis of The Pennsylvania State University. The proposed research will investigate impacts on the University’s fiber footprint of different purchasing strategies. Using historical purchasing data, the study will model the footprints of alternative product mixes having various fiber compositions. Changes in the footprint models will be analyzed to identify the optimal fiber mix which produces the smallest feasible fiber footprint for the University. Finally, to support development of purchasing processes necessary for obtaining the optimal fiber mix, the research will also investigate the purchasing behaviors and outcomes of University employees responsible for procuring paper products. The study will seek to identify the primary drivers of purchasing decisions and analyze the efficacy of behavioral modification strategies.

Tuesday Poster Session
Nathaniel Elser
Judd Michael
Related Conference Themes
Land Use
Materials & Waste