University of Hertfordshire Sustainable Purchasing Guidance

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April 2007

University of Hertfordshire Sustainable Purchasing Guidance

Aim of this guidance
This guidance document, produced by the University of Hertfordshire‟s Environment
Team aims to introduce the theory and practice of sustainable purchasing to devolved
purchasers and contract managers at the University. It should be referred to as a guide
and signposting document to be used in purchasing decisions, in line with the
University‟s Environmental and Sustainable Purchasing Policies.

What is Sustainable Purchasing?
Sustainable purchasing is about minimising the environmental and social impact of the
purchases an individual or organisation makes.

“Sustainable purchasing is all about taking environmental and social factors into
account in purchasing decisions. It’s about looking at what your products are made of,
where they come from and who has made them. It’s even about looking at whether you
need to make the purchase at all. If you consider all these factors, you can make better
choices about what you buy, who you buy it from and how often you buy it.”
            Purchasing for Sustainability, Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability

What are the impacts of your purchasing choice?
Environmental impacts
The extraction and processing of finite resources such as wood, oil and coal, the use of
energy and water, transportation and the production of waste causes a wide range of
environmental impacts such as:
    climate change;
    land and water pollution;
    reduction in habitats and species;
    ozone depletion; and
    reduction in local air quality

If everyone on the planet consumed as much as the average UK citizen we'd need three
planets to support us.

Social impacts
The extraction, manufacture and distribution of goods are also linked to a wide range of
social issues such as:
     fair wages;
     minimum standard of working conditions; and
     child labour.

Many people in the developing world that produce our everyday products do not earn
enough to afford the basic necessities such as clean water, comfortable shelter and
education for their children.

Many diary farmers in the UK are now going out of business because they are earning
less money than it takes to produce their milk.
April 2007

Why should we purchase more sustainably?
UK government goals and objectives

Sustainable Purchasing has been identified as a key area in which the UK can meet
government objectives on sustainable development. The public sector spends £150bn a
year or around 13% of the UK GDP. The total non-pay spend in the English Higher
Education sector is £4 billion per annum.

Sustainable development takes into account environmental, economic and social issues. It
basically prescribes good management of our environment and its natural resources so
that the human needs and a good quality of life can be ensured both now and in the

The UK Government‟s 2005 Sustainable Development Strategy set the goal to make the
UK a leader in sustainable procurement within the EU by 2009. In 2006, The Sustainable
Procurement Task Force produced „Procuring the Future‟ to set out how the objective
could be delivered. A major focus of this was a Flexible Framework to guide public
sector organisations (including universities) to make sustainable procurement happen. It
allows organisations to assess the quality of its procurement activities and gives a clear
route map to better performance. The Task Force recommends that public sector
organisations should be at Level One on their Flexible Framework by April 2007 and at
Level Three by April 2009, for the 2009 goal to be met.

In response to the Sustainable Procurement Task Force, the UK Government Sustainable
Procurement Action Plan was published in March 2007. This encouraged this use of the
Framework and a wide range of plans to improve Governmental Department Purchasing
Practice, to lead by example.

“..Future generations will neither excuse us nor forgive us for ignoring the signals that
we can see today…But if the latest sustainability strategy, Securing the Future, is driven
forward with determination and the government's huge spending power is harnessed as
recommended in this report and if the first steps are taken now, right now, future
generations will have much to thank our leaders for.”
Sir Neville Simms, Chairman of the SPTF

University of Hertfordshire commitments

The University is a responsible organisation that has a publicly available Environmental
Policy, a Sustainable Purchasing Policy and a Fairtrade Policy.

The Environmental Policy, endorsed by Tim Wilson, Vice Chancellor commits to:
“favouring the purchase of more sustainable goods and services”. The Sustainable
Purchasing and Fairtrade Policies were adopted in addition to the Environmental Policy,
in recognition of the importance of Sustainable Purchasing and the need to expand related
Policy commitments.
April 2007

The University of Hertfordshire became a Project Partner in the Environmental
Association of Universities and College‟s (EAUC) Sustainable Procurement in FHE
Project in October 2005. The project is assisting the University in implementing its
Sustainable Purchasing Policy as well as helping other Universities and Colleges to adopt
more sustainable purchasing practices whilst building a network of project partners.

The project is partly funded by DEFRA and supported by a powerful and enthusiastic
project steering group. Agencies represented include HEFCE, LSC, LSDA, Chartered
Institute of Purchasing, Firebuy, ProcHE CSR Group, SUPC, Office Depot, Sustainable
Supply Chain Forum and NUSSL.

The University of Hertfordshire‟s purchasing project is following the Government‟s
Sustainable Procurement Flexible Framework. UH achieved Level 1 of the Framework in
April 2007. Elements of this include:
    Sustainable procurement champion identified.
    Basic training and guidance for key procurement staff.
    Sustainable procurement as part of a key employee induction programme.
    Simple sustainable procurement policy in place endorsed by Deputy VC.
    Communication to staff and key suppliers.
    Expenditure analysis and identification of key sustainability impacts.
    Key contracts start to include general sustainability criteria.
    Contracts awarded on the basis of value-for-money, not lowest price.
    Adoption of „quick wins‟.
    Key suppliers targeted for engagement.

The sustainable purchasing project is linked with other key projects undertaken as part of
the University of Hertfordshire‟s Environmental Management Strategy. These include the
University of Hertfordshire Carbon Management Programme and Environmental
Management System, under the EcoCampus accreditation scheme. More information can
be found on these projects at:

Business benefits of sustainable procurement
Sustainable procurement is simply good procurement practice. It can provide a wide
range of business benefits, including:
    Reducing and managing risk
    Improved purchasing practice
    Legislative compliance
    Increased direction of management focus
    Improved best value selection of products and services
    Fulfilment of current University policies
    Social benefits in the local community
    Increased resource efficiency
    Cost savings
    Opportunities to enhance corporate image
April 2007

The University of Hertfordshire recognises and is committed to carry out its Procurement function
incorporating the principles of sustainable purchasing. Purchasing decisions have a major socio-
economic and environmental implication, both locally and globally, now and for generations to come.
The University aims to ensure that its activities meet the diverse needs of students, the economy and
society both now and in the future and it will achieve this through:-

       The assessment of environmental and corporate risks to the organisation with a commitment to
        continually improve sustainable performance related to the supply chain.

       Complying with all relevant environmental legislation.

       Educating suppliers concerning the University‟s sustainable objectives, which include preventing
        pollution, minimising waste, preserving natural resources and promoting resource efficiency by
        eliminating, reducing, reusing and recycling.

       Working with key suppliers to bring about changes and thereby spread sustainability
        improvements through the supply chain. This will include:-
            o Avoiding products with particularly harmful substances
            o Favouring products with recycled content or that are biodegradable
            o Buying products using recognised labelling schemes such as FSC or EU Eco Label
            o Encourage suppliers to achieve environmental credentials such as environmental
               management systems for ISO14001 or EMAS.

       Training and awareness of staff of the University policy and promoting best practice for
        sustainable purchasing. To include whole life costs of any goods and services to be purchased, this
        will include as a minimum:-
             o manufacture, delivery, installation,
             o operating costs including energy, water usage and maintenance
             o end of life costs including decommissioning and disposal

       Addressing barriers to entry so that SME‟s and local suppliers are encouraged to bid for
        appropriate work.

       Consideration of other corporate social responsibility issues such as race relations, disability, sex
        and religion.

       Ensuring that suppliers‟ environmental credentials are, as far as legally practicable, considered in
        the suppliers appraisal process.

       Ensuring that, where appropriate, environmental criteria are used in the award of contracts.

       Working in partnership with others such as the EAUC and Southern Universities Purchasing
        Consortium Environment Group to improve sustainable purchasing.

       Exploring opportunities for reuse and recycling of materials as appropriate.

       Ensuring that appropriate consideration is given to the costs and benefits of environmentally
        preferable products and services alternatives.

University Policy covers sustainability issues as part of its purchasing procedures which must apply in the
following areas:-
      Procurement of goods and services                          Maintenance of buildings and estates
      Contractors working on site                                   including landscape management and
      Design of new buildings and renovation                        cleaning

Terry Neville, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Director of Finance, October 2005
April 2007

How can you reduce the environmental and social impact of products
you buy on behalf of the University?
There is a wide range of ways that staff involved in purchasing and contract management
can improve sustainable purchasing practice at the University of Hertfordshire. These
     Purchasing on the basis of need and environmental impact assessment.
     Taking into account the Whole Life Costs of a product.
     Choosing sustainably marked or „eco-label‟ products.
     Integrating environmental requirements into specifications.
     Managing contracts for continual environmental improvement.

Assessing need and reducing consumption
In purchasing goods and services, the need for the product and the environmental impact
of the product should be assessed. Preference should be on improving efficiency of use
and on low environmental impact products, wherever possible.

In purchasing goods and services you should consider the following questions either for
yourself or for the person asking you to place an order:
     Why does your department need this product or service? – Is it vital to the
       performance of a department or task? Could the need be met through existing
       products or equipment in the department?
     Can the need be met another way?
     Is a suitable product available elsewhere in the institution? – Have you looked on
       the purchasing website or contacted the porter‟s service for surplus equipment
       that you could use or buy?
     Can the requirement be met by renting, sharing or hiring rather than purchasing? –
       is there similar equipment in the University that you use?
     Is the quantity requested essential? – are you buying too much just because it is
       cheaper to buy in bulk?
     Is the specification currently being used the correct one for the purpose? – do you
       need a piece of equipment that has lots of extra functions?

Remember that it is ok to ask questions and make alternative suggestions if you are being
asked to purchase something on somebody else‟s behalf. Exercise assertiveness with

Assessing and reducing environmental and social impacts
When purchasing goods and services, the financial should not be the only consideration.
It is University policy to choose the most „economically advantageous option‟ i.e. the
best value. The Whole Life Costs (WLC) of a product should be considered. This covers
aspects such as functionality and product efficiency during the lifetime. You need to
think about the environmental and social impact of the:
      use of natural resources;
      manufacture;
      distribution and delivery;
      operating costs including energy, water usage and maintenance; and
      end of life costs including decommissioning and disposal.
April 2007

Remember to look out for Eco-labels. These are products that have a special symbol
that show the sustainability of a product.

                     The European Eco-label has been developed by the European Union
                     to encourage the development of products which keep the impact on
                     the environment to a minimum. It is a voluntary scheme and the
                     'flower' symbol is awarded to products that meet a set of stringent
                     environmental and performance criteria. These criteria take into
                     account all aspects of a product's life, from its production and use to
                     its eventual disposal (cradle-to-grave approach). About 400 products
                     - from washing machines to footwear - currently carry the label.
                     Packaging is included in this life cycle analysis where it is integral to
                     the product, such as washing up liquid or laundry detergents.

Use of natural resources: The extraction and processing of raw materials such as wood,
stone, minerals or chemicals, etc, that go into our products, generally means the depletion
of non-renewable resources, generation of polluting emissions to air and water, and the
use of energy (itself dependent on extraction and burning of fossil fuel). Many of these
raw materials are located in remote areas of the world or areas of outstanding beauty,
some of which contain rare species or are valued for the diversity of their flora and fauna.

What can you do? Ask your supplier for:
   Products that have maximum durability, reparability, reusability and
      upgradeability. A long-life product will cost less, financially and environmentally.
   Products made of recycled materials. The higher the percentage of recycled
      material (also known as post-consumer waste) the better.
   Sustainabily produced products such as Forest Stewardship Council wood and
      paper products.
   Minimum use of packaging that makes use of recycled or biodegradable material.
   Ethically produced products such as „Fairtrade‟ products

Look out for the following symbols

                 This is the label of the Forest Stewardship Council. Any product
                 produced from wood, including paper can be accredited by the FSC. If a
                 product displays the FSC label it would have been certified by the
                 organisation as coming from a responsibly managed forest, where the
                 harvest of timber and non-timber products maintains the forest's
                 biodiversity, productivity and ecological processes.

              This symbol denotes an object contains x% of recycled material. It may
              be used without specifying the % of recycled materials it uses.
April 2007

         Fairtrade products guarantee a better deal for producers in the developing
         world. It ensures:
         •A price that covers producer‟s costs.
         •A premium for producers to invest in their communities –clean water,
         healthcare, education, the environment.
         •Long-term and more direct trading relations.

              A new symbol found on biodegradable plastic packaging. The symbol
              signifies that the packaging has been tested, and is suitable for putting
              into home or local authority composting systems.

         United Kingdom Cartridge Recycling Association - This symbol indicates
         that certain environmental criteria for toner cartridge recycling have been

             National Association of Paper Merchants - To be given this mark, paper
             or board must be made from a minimum of 75% genuine waste paper
             and / or board fibre, no part of which should contain mill produced
             waste fibre.

            Recyclable aluminium

            Recyclable steel

        Recyclable plastic. This symbol indicates a type of plastic called
        Polyethylene Terepthalate
April 2007

Manufacture : The manufacture of products requires the use of energy and water and
produces waste. It can also involve the emission of pollutants such as as ozone,
volatile organic compounds (VOCs), CO2, NOx and SOx.

What can you do? Give preference to companies that are actively reducing the
environmental impact of their manufacturing processes. Such companies will have:
    An Environmental Policy and named person to implement this.
    An environmental management system that will probably be certified by either
       ISO14001 or EMAS.

Distribution and delivery: Goods are usually distributed to the end user (individual
consumers or other companies) by road, rail, sea or air. Increasing globalisation
means that these journeys can be over a thousand of miles long, with components for
a particular product coming from all corners of the globe. The use of fuel for
transportation results in the production of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide
that lead to climate change, and other pollutants. It also requires the building of roads
and associated infrastructure and the manufacture of vehicles, etc. This all puts a
strain on the environment through loss of natural resources, wildlife habitats and

What can you do? Do your best to reduce the miles that your products travel:
   Choose products that are produced nearer to home.
   Place larger orders so fewer deliveries are required.
   Try not to avid purchasing products that have been transported by air.

Operating costs: For many products, the most significant environmental impact
occurs during their operation or use. This is particularly the case for those products
which require the use of energy (electricity, gas or petrol). Energy use is associated
with the production of carbon dioxide and other pollutant that cause environmental
and health impacts.

What can you do? Choose products that will use less energy and will be less polluting
to the natural environment: Ask your supplying company for:
     At least A-rated energy efficient appliances
     Products with minimal use of toxic chemicals (e.g CFC‟s, Ozone, Volatile
        Organic Compounds (VOC‟s))

Look out for the following symbols

                                      The EU energy label rates products from A++,
                                      (the most efficient) to G (the least efficient). By
                                      law, the label must be shown on all refrigeration
                                      and laundry appliances, dishwashers, electric
                                      ovens, air conditioners, lamps and light bulb
April 2007

                                     The Energy Saving Recommended logo given by
                                     the Energy Saving Trust identifies the most
                                     energy efficient products in their category.

           Dangerous for the Environment- AVOID products marked with this
           symbol. It shows that it contains chemicals that may harm the

Disposal: Disposing of waste through landfill is a waste of natural resources and it
results in the production of greenhouse gasses that cause climate change. Landfill
sites are also becoming increasingly costly to use and are in short supply. The
University of Hertfordshire currently recycles 31% of its waste and has target to
increase this to 40% by 2010.

What can you do?
   Reduce waste as much as possible by choosing reusable or repairable products
      instead of disposable ones.
   Ensure that waste goods and their packaging are either reused or recycled. For
      a guide on what can be recycled at the University see
   Ensure that no hazardous waste is sent to landfill, this needs to be specially
      treated. Hazardous waste includes batteries, electrical equipment and products
      containing any chemicals that may be toxic or harmful.

Some other Eco- labels
April 2007

Integrating environmental requirements into specifications
Environmental criteria can be applied in the award of contracts. For this to be
effective the contract award criteria need to be set at an early stage. You need to
follow EU purchasing guidelines in relation to environmental issues.

Under European Community Law you can:
   Define the subject matter of a contract in relation to environmental issues.
   Include environmental issues in best value for money considerations or
      „economically most advantageous‟ options.
   Adopt a whole life costing approach in the preparation of award criteria to
      improve the environmental position.
   Give organisations preference and award criteria on environmental
      performance providing it relates to the subject area and technical specification
      (performance based or functional). Criteria can be awarded in the same way as
      any other technical specification.
   Specify any relevant environmental production methods and materials.
   Use eco-label or Environmental Management System standards when defining
      technical requirements.
   Take into account production methods and materials in relation to
      environmental issues in the technical specification.
   Exclude companies that have acted against environmental legislation or
   Select suppliers and set environmental criteria on the basis of environmental
      technical competence.
   Include environmental considerations in the contract performance clauses such
      as the way goods are transported, waste disposal and staff training and

Under European Community Law you must:
   Provide equal opportunities and act fairly.
   Only include specifications in relation to the subject matter.
   State the award of criteria on environmental issues in tender documents, as
      any other.
   Use criteria that are specific and objectively quantifiable. All reasonably well-
      informed tenderers of normal diligence should interpret them in the same way.
   Respect all standard EC Laws.

Under European Community Law you cannot:
   Set requirements for companies to have a specific eco-label or environmental
      management system. Although these may prove the ability to fulfil technical
   Ask for anything that does not relate to the subject matter of the contract.
   Confer unrestricted freedom of choice.
April 2007


During the pre-qualification process you should assess the potential suppliers of
goods and services to ensure they meet the University‟s Environmental and
Sustainable Purchasing Policies.

In formulating your pre-qualification questions, consider the following:
      A systematic approach to the management of environmental and social issues
       (e.g. through the use of ISO 14001, EMAS, BS8555, SA8000).
      An Environmental or Sustainability Policy – this should have top
       management commitment and a commitment to continuous improvement.
     A commitment to publishing a CSR or sustainability report.
     Records of Health, Safety and Environmental incidents.

The following are indicators that companies do not take CSR seriously:
    Use of vague statements e.g. “we comply with all relevant regulations”.
    Concentration on peripheral issues – e.g. overemphasis on community
       involvement and charitable giving.
    Lack of transparency – no published CSR or sustainability report.

Managing contracts for sustainability
Once a contract has been awarded, environmental and social considerations should be
taken into account during ongoing contract management.

What can you do?
   Set targets and key performance indicators related to the University‟s.
      Sustainable Purchasing Policy and Guidance.
   Encourage innovation around reducing environmental and social impacts.
   Use past performance in award of new contracts.
   Discuss alternative products & services with suppliers.
   Work with suppliers to help them achieve continual environmental
April 2007

Further reading

DEFRA. A Shoppers Guide to Green Labels.

DEFRA. 2006. Procuring the Future.

Europa. Co-operation with international Eco-labels

Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (HEPS). Purchasing for

HM Government. 2007. UK Government Sustainable Procurement Action Plan.

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