Environmental Procurement - Information for Buyers


Over the past few decades there has been an increasing interest in and move towards Sustainable Development in many spheres. This has arisen out of growing global concern about the state of the environment and the decreasing quality of life for many people. Sustainable Development has been defined as:- meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Thus planning and implementing for our future is becoming increasingly important and is the stated objective of many governments as well as public and private sector businesses and organisations, communities and individuals.


So what is Environmental Procurement?

Environmental [or Green/Sustainable] Procurement is about taking environmental and social factors into account in making procurement decisions with the aim of minimising the environmental and social impacts of the purchases you make whilst ensuring Value for Money is still maintained.


Why do it?

The Higher Education sector is a major purchaser of goods and services and therefore has a major impact on the environment and on people and communities. Procurement power can influence suppliers in creating a greener environment and a market for more ethical products.

There are several economic, environmental and social reasons why we in Queen’s should undertake greener purchasing. These include:

  • Ensuring compliance with legislation
  • Conservation of natural resources
  • Reducing pollution
  • Reduction of amount and type of waste sent to landfill
  • Cost savings - greener alternatives may be more energy-efficient in the long term.
  • Enhancing the University's corporate image


Environmental Policies

In 2006, an Environmental Management System (EMS) was established by the Estates Directorate and Procurement Office.  In January 2007, ISO 14001 Environmental Systems Standard Certification was achieved.  The Queen’s University Belfast Environmental Policy Statement was produced as part of the EMS.

As part of this process, and its commitment to environmental responsibility and awareness, the Procurement Office has, in conjunction with the Estates Department, developed and implemented a joint Environmental Policy.

As it is recognised that much of our indirect environmental impact lies in our supply base, to ensure the appropriate level of environmental performance of the University's suppliers, a Green Procurement Policy has been produced.


Green Guidelines for Buyers

Green Guidelines for Buyers have been produced for Nominated Buyers and other staff who purchase supplies for their Schools/Directorates to raise awareness of the green alternatives available, in order to reduce the University's impact on the environment.


Green Guidelines for Suppliers

Green Guidelines for Suppliers have also been produced to explain to suppliers what the University is trying to achieve in terms of green procurement. These are issued to suppliers on an ad hoc basis as well as with all tender documentation for contracts for supplies and services which may impact on the environment.


'Green' University Supply Arrangements

The University currently has a number of "greener" contracts in place for the supply of a range of commodities and services, for example:-

  • Stationery, IT Consumables and Paper are available via a 'One Stop Shop' arrangement.
  • A comprehensive Print Management and Reprographics Service ensures that the University's environmental objectives are adhered to, where possible, in the production of printed material.
  • Commercial Waste Management Services are provided in line with the University's Sustainable Waste Management Strategy.
  • To ensure that the University meets its obligations under WEEE (Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment) legislation, all electrical equipment (including computing equipment) is disposed of and recycled by a specialist WEEE contractor
  • A number of environmental factors, such as recycled components and energy-saving features, were taken into consideration in the provision of Photocopiers (Multi Functional Devices: MFDs) which are supplied to Schools and Directorates under a rental agreement.


Eco Labels and Standards

There is a wide range of accreditations and logos that are given to firms and products which meet required standards in certain environmental fields. These are regularly audited to ensure that standards are continually being met. Details of the three main energy labels for equipment can be found in the Green Guidelines for Buyers


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - what you can do

One of the best ways to help the environment is to minimise consumption.  Some basic rules are:

  • Is the product or service actually required?
  • Can the need be met in another way?
  • Is a suitable product/service available elsewhere in the University for sharing rather than purchasing?
  • Is the quantity requested essential?

If essential to purchase, then consider choosing alternative "greener" products:

  • Is it made from partly or wholly recycled material?
  • Can it be recycled once it has been finished with?
  • Is it energy efficient?
  • Does it have excess packaging?


Return to Top