Vendors recognized with Procurement Partner Sustainability Awards

Author: Donnetta McClellan

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The University of Notre Dame recognized two vendors with Procurement Partner Sustainability Awards for their shared commitment to sustainability at a virtual ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 3. Executive Vice President Shannon Cullinan honored Office Depot and Root Candles for their sustainable business practices and partnership with the University’s sustainability efforts. This is the second year the University has distributed the awards. 

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Shannon Cullinan

“It is my pleasure to recognize and thank Office Depot and Root Candles for their leadership and innovation in creating more sustainable business operations and products in partnership with Notre Dame,” said Cullinan. “As a Catholic university, we are called in a special way to environmental stewardship, and the Procurement Partner Sustainability Awards are another meaningful step toward advancing our efforts to conserve the natural environment and promote the common good. We are proud to partner with organizations that share these goals.”

The University recognized Office Depot for its Green Book® Digital Catalog and Green Select Cart, which were added to BuyND. The tools identify greener product options available for purchase and help Notre Dame work toward its goal to increase the University’s procurement of sustainable products. Office Depot also introduced the University to Keurig’s K-Cup recycling program, K-Cycle, which will launch campuswide at Notre Dame this year. In 2019, K-Cycle users nationwide recycled more than a million pounds of material that otherwise would have ended up in landfills. K-cycle will help Notre Dame achieve its goal to decrease landfill use by 67 percent or more by 2030.

Stephen Mohan, executive vice president of the business solutions division for Office Depot, said the company is proud of its longstanding procurement partnership with Notre Dame and is honored to receive recognition for its sustainability initiatives. 

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Stephan Mohan

“Office Depot believes that sustainability plays an essential role in the success of our company, our industry and our communities, now and for future generations. By supporting the environmental values of our customers, helping them achieve their own sustainability goals and make greener purchasing decisions, we are able to significantly scale our impact beyond our walls and into the workplace of every customer,” Mohan said.

Notre Dame also recognized Root Candles as a small sustainable business. With the University’s help, the company developed a recycling solution for spent Grotto Candles. Each year, more than 250,000 used candles generated more than 90 tons of solid waste headed to landfills. Now, 100 percent of the Grotto candles are recycled after use. Spent Grotto candles are transported to a facility where they are cleaned (the wax residue is collected and sold to drilling companies). The glass containers that become chipped, cracked or broken during transportation to the recycling facility cannot be reused for Grotto candles and are recycled into containers, abrasives and light reflective beads used to identify lanes on roadways. Clean and empty glass candle containers are shipped back to Notre Dame with new candles and the process begins again. Like the K-Cycle project, this project contributes to the University’s decreased use of landfills. 

Brad Root, president of Root Candles, said the company was honored to receive the award.

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Brad Root

“Together, we were able to devise a sustainable recycling solution to the Grotto’s vexing burden of burned-out wax and glass, thus decreasing the environmental footprint of the Grotto and of a Root Candles consumable product. Not only is this solution innovative for Notre Dame and Root Candles, it follows Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, calling all faithful to take 'swift and unified global action,'" Root said.

The University recognized Kimberly-Clark Corporation with the inaugural Procurement Partner Sustainability Award in 2019.

Originally published by Donnetta McClellan at on January 25, 2021.