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Buying responsibly - contributing to responsible procurement

Consumption costs and it is the choices we make as individuals that have a real impact. When you requisition or order goods on behalf of the University you have a vital role in supporting our responsible procurement approach.

Responsible procurement is one of the themes in our staff 10,000 Actions programme. By signing up and committing to actions (either individually or as a work group) you can make a positive contribution to what we are trying to achieve.

The guidance below will help you make informed choices when purchasing.

Use contracted suppliers

Contracted suppliers are assessed in a variety of ways and by using them you can be assured that they offer not just ease of use, but also value for money and alignment with our wider objectives.

Using our contracted suppliers also means assured compliance with health and safety regulations. 

Sustainable considerations are embedded into contracts supporting our aims to reduce our impact on the environment from what we purchase. We continue to work with our suppliers and colleagues in Environmental Sustainability:

• to minimise packing and for them to observe their obligations under the packaging waste regulations;
• to reduce single use plastic and carbon within our supply chains.

Our supplier practices support Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I). Working with colleagues in ED&I we raise awareness, deliver training and demonstrate excellent practice, which has contributed to the University’s success in the Stonewall Employer Index.


Consider the impact of your purchase

Think about, and understand, the cost and impact of what you are actually buying, follow our quick guide to the top 10 ways to purchase responsibly.

Understand the full cost of what you are looking to buy – especially for large or high-value items; our whole life costing guides will help with this.

Find out about the impact of equipment you want; see our guide on purchasing energy efficient equipment to reduce running costs and help contribute to our commitments around the climate change emergency.

Know what the product label tells you. We have produced a short guide to the commonest product labels: product label guidance but if are unable to find what you need on this you can also check out the full product label list.

You can also consider ethical buying when making personal purchasing decisions.  We've produced a brief guide to some of the websites and apps available to help conscious consumers.

Reuse, disposal and recycling

We support the University’s commitment around sustainable waste management practices and the principles of reducing, re-using and recycling across the campus. Our contracts adopt principles of waste minimisation, we work with suppliers to encourage them to follow these same principles especially around reducing packing when supplying us and ensuring that they have processes for appropriately managing disposal and recycling in their own organisations.

For further information on how to become more sustainable we have created guidance for minimising waste at work.

We encourage re-use through a variety of channels including working with contracted suppliers of stationery as well as through internal and external partners to facilitate responsible disposal or donation of end of life items.

Furniture disposal and re-use/recycling 

Disposal and re-use of IT equipment

Food waste

Contracted laboratory suppliers' sustainability services

The University makes use of Warp It, a resource redistribution network, which can be utilised where appropriate.

For other disposal or re-cycling options, please consult  the University's Environmental Services Unit

In addition, we are currently working with our contracted laboratory suppliers to highlight their work in this area.

Disposal of assets

If you need to dispose of something and it is not appropriate to use one of the routes above, or the item has a useful residual value, the guidance below will help you to dispose of it properly.

There are a number of things to consider and a more formal approach is required both to comply with the University’s internal regulations (including demonstrating value for money) and to ensure that any legal obligations are met.

Schools are required to maintain an up to date register of all assets and to ensure that stocks and equipment are properly managed. Guidance on registering assets can be found on the Finance Directorate webpages.

Disposal covers a wide range of actions; sale, loan, gift or donation (including transfer to another school) or scrapping.

Key considerations:

• ownership – are you able to dispose of the asset or are there restrictions on disposal? This is especially important where items are held jointly (regardless of location) and/or they were purchased from a research grant;
• are there any tax implications arising from disposal? Where there was remission of any import duty associated with the assets acquisition HMRC may need to be consulted; check with our internal Tax/VAT team;
• does disposal represent the best value? There may be a potential to dismantle the item for valuable components or materials e.g. spare parts or silver from photographic film; these may be of more use, or be more saleable than the original item. Obviously safety considerations need to be met if these options are pursued;
• a formal business case to justify the disposal to include costs, benefits (e.g. income generation, reduction of management/maintenance costs, improved use of space etc.) and proposed method of disposal.

For assets valued under £5,000 approval may be granted by the Head of School although the Director of Finance needs to be notified of the disposal.

For assets valued £5,000 and above, prior authorisation of the Director of Finance is required by completion of a standard form: application to sell or otherwise dispose of equipment.