The impact of procurement is not limited to our usage but to the full life cycle of the product, from raw materials and manufacture to disposal:
There are lots of ways we can purchase more sustainably to reduce these impacts. Here are seven simple steps to more sustainable procurement, both at work and at home:
1. Do we really need this?! Value for money is impossible to achieve if we don’t really need an item in the first place so think twice before ordering to ensure money is well spent and waste is minimised
2. Reduce usage. Considerate usage saves money and resources. Paper is the key example here: staff and students can make the most of our new multifunctional printing equipment (networked photocopiers and printers all rolled into one!) to reduce the amount of paper and energy we use through printing and copying
3. Can we reuse or refurbish? Most furniture suppliers will take back old furniture and refurbish it for us to the design we specify – this saves us significant amounts of money and prevents all that lovely material from heading straight to the tip
4. Can we acquire this item elsewhere? We can use the university’s Announce emails for advertising redundant equipment – if you know you are likely to need items in the future then keep an eye out on these emails! This saves money and reduces waste and resources. Items can also be procured from other organisations: http://xchange.procureweb.ac.uk/ features lots of equipment and furniture for resale online
5. Collaborate with colleagues. Sharing equipment is a sustainability win, simultaneously reducing spend and environmental footprint. Collaboration on deliveries is another good idea – placing orders at the same time can minimise the deliveries to site
6. Think sustainable labels. Think recycled, Fairtrade, EU Ecolabel, FSC, Energy Star - the list goes on! Don’t let the labels daunt you as they can assist us all in buying more planet friendly options - a good guide is produced by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), available here. Product and contract specific information for staff will also be supplied by Procurement & Business Services in the near future.
7. Badger your supplier! If you’re not sure what to buy then ask them! They want the university’s business so we’re in a brilliant position to influence the market. We’ve had progress from many suppliers already and several will be showcasing their products and services at the Sustainable Procurement Exhibition in October. Staff can sign up to attend here.