In the summer of 1989, Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin and then-Governor Rudy Perpich of Minnesota resolved to combine the purchasing power of their two states to help create a market for recycled products. In the past, jurisdictions motivated to purchase recycled products to influence the marketplace attempted to do so on their own, resulting in limited success. Mindful of past failures, the governors resolved to use the prestige of their respective offices to propel this idea forward.
With gubernatorial support, purchasing staff from both states convened to select a product and work out the details. After recycled xerographic paper was selected, a landmark conference of leading paper manufacturers was hosted in Appleton, Wisconsin, to review the response capability of the industry. Although many doubted that 6,000,000 pounds of recycled product could be delivered to meet the project deadline, the venture was ultimately successful. Governor Thompson then introduced this concept to the Great Lakes Governors' Council and challenged more states to join in this collective effort. Additional states from the Midwest Governors' Council were subsequently mobilized and made up the nine-state purchasing coalition now involved in the Multi-State Procurement of Xerographic Paper program.
Ultimately, this multi-state partnership was responsible for the purchase 30 million pounds of 50-percent recycled xerographic paper containing at least 10 percent post-consumer waste, thereby creating a sizable demand for market development. In-depth analysis by Wisconsin using an Environmental Protection Agency grant recorded specific product performance by brand as experienced on different copy machines at Madison-based state copy centers. In general, recycled paper is meeting performance specifications.