Sustainable Purchasing Principles

As part of the University’s efforts to improve sustainability and reduce environmental impact, the following guidelines have been compiled to assist staff in making environmentally friendly choices when buying goods.

This guidance is intended to be applied to lower value purchases and does not supersede existing procurement requirements.

Make use of existing stock

We all know that ‘reuse is better than recycling’, and it is always better not to order new products unless necessary. Especially for stationery items such as pens or notepads, it is important to use our current stock up before purchasing any more. Be sure to look outside your own department or school. You can aid this by following the University branding guidelines for future purchases.

Think about your supplier

A full supply chain analysis is not required for every purchase, but you should consider using local suppliers for goods and services where possible. You should also think about the practices of the supplier – are they aligned with the values and sustainability goals of the University?

Consider disposal

If you are buying something that is consumable, or will require disposal, it is important to think about how this will be achieved. Is your item recyclable or biodegradable? If not, is there an alternative product which is more environmentally friendly at the end of its useful life?

Choose sustainable materials

Where possible, and without limiting the utility of the item, consider purchasing items made from sustainable materials such as bamboo or cotton and avoiding plastics or oil-based products. Keep plastics to a minimum and promote the use of recycled materials in the products.

Challenge the status quo: do we really need it?

We should all consider whether there are more effective means of achieving our goals than simply buying in additional stock. Marketing materials and giveaways should be challenged – is the item useful and will it be used? Souvenir items such as hoodies or keyrings should be reviewed.

Celebrate your progress!

Remember to share your successes in improving the environmental credentials of your department or school. Advertising your sustainable approach will resonate favourably with staff and students alike. Consider this especially when planning events – a sustainable event is commendable and should garner increased comms and social media coverage.

Further guidance and advice