Positive Procurement Power

Over 60% of an organisation’s carbon emissions are generated through purchasing products and services. We recognise this fact and we are committed to making purchasing decisions that minimise resource use and waste disposal impacts.

The Procurement Team have produced a training package for all staff spending University money to ensure they understand the laws regarding public procurement.

The aim of this training is to explain rules on procurement at the University and to give you some ideas as to the sustainability issues to consider when ordering goods and services.

Procurement is the process of acquiring goods and services from third parties.

Not everyone is involved in buying goods and services for UEA, but all staff are affected by, and can influence, purchasing decisions on both.

How can I be more sustainable in my purchases?

Remember, if you are purchasing on behalf of the University these issues are checked when we establish contracts on your behalf so please check preferred suppliers on My UEA.

UEA Procurement Strategy and Policy
(requires My.UEA login)


Do you need to buy it?

All goods and services use resources: by not buying them in the first place you can have the biggest impact.

If the goods/ services are genuinely needed you could...

  • Recycle, re-use or refurbish what you already have
  • Borrow
  • Lease or hire
  • Share with other Schools or departments, or other universities

Don't just think about the initial purchase price.

Consider all the running costs throughout the product/ service life to ensure you are getting value for money.

Consider the pollution emitted and energy used when running the goods and services.

You should also think about the pollution emitted and resources used to make them. Where possible buy recycled materials, low energy goods and eco-labelled products.

Think about disposal of the products at the end of their life.

Try to purchase goods that will last and can be reused or recycled, and that don't contain hazardous substances.

Ensure that people and communities are not exploited in the making and provision of your goods and services (e.g. child labour and poor working conditions)

Join the Sustainability Network and be a sustainable procurement champion.

Email the procurement team for more information.


Download the UEA Procurement Strategy

In 2015 the UK introduced the Modern Slavery Act. We are the first country in the world to specifically address slavery and trafficking in the 21st Century with legislation. The Act implements the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These are a set of guidelines which help countries and businesses to prevent, address and remedy human rights abuses.

Within our supply chain for the provision of goods, services and works, all tendering exercises that are managed through the Central Procurement Team include questions to suppliers related to slavery and human trafficking. It is important that University members purchase from preferred suppliers.

Read our modern slavery statement

Green Furniture

We can spend over £180,000 on new furniture in a single year. The Space and Portering teams have been working to improve sustainable options when it comes to furniture.

A local upholsterer has upcycled chairs for The Enterprise Centre and UEA offices, with nettle and hemp fabric ranges increasing the eco credentials of these items even further. Costs are approximately 50% of buying a new chair, and the service can be requested by any member of staff for old, broken, dirty or damaged furniture.

For further information or if you have any questions Email the Space Team

Read more about sustainable furniture


Creating Headroom Printer Consolidation

84% of our printers are not centrally managed. Creating Headroom looks at the way the University operates, and tries to save money to use elsewhere by making procedures and processes more efficient.

The team has been looking at reducing the number of desktop printers and consolidating to Ricoh machines, offering a more standardised and efficient service, and reducing the amount of “impulse printing” when a printer is so close at hand.

By reducing desktop printers we would also reduce the ad-hoc and costly purchasing of individual printer toners and ink cartridges, being able to standardise across the Ricoh fleet and capitalise on economies of scale.


Sustainable Printing 

UEA reduced its overall paper consumption by 6.9% from 23,038,750 sheets in 2013/14 to 21,459,750 sheets in 2014/15, a drop of over one and a half million sheets.

The reduction saved almost £11,600, and around 300 fewer trees needed to be felled. These reductions are impressive, however the paper still costs over £85,000 per year, and over 265 tonnes of CO2e is still produced in manufacturing and disposing of the paper.

UEA also spent almost £150,000 on ‘print consumables’ (printer toner, peripherals, maintenance etc.) in 2014/15. £111,975 of this was spent on printer toner.

We joined the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) in 2014, allowing us to work towards ensuring the factories we procure from are compliant with the WRC code of conduct. Joining also committed us to conducting business in a socially responsible and ethical manner, and to protect and preserve the global environment. The WRC suspended their UK programme in November 2019. We still follow all the principles learnt from that affiliation in our procurement and are actively seeking an alternative monitoring and assessment programme for our apparel procurement. 

Where we purchase items where there may be ethical issues in the supply chain we try to address this through the tender and subsequent contract. In our laundry contract, for example, we gained details of the supply chain for all of our chefs' clothing to ensure that it is not coming from factories operating unethical practices. We have recently developed a kit and uniform tender, including student sports clubs. As part of this we have written into the specification that companies must provide factory disclosure information.


Electronics Watch

We belong to the Southern Universities' Purchasing Consortium (SUPC) to enable the university to access more financially beneficial contracts and frameworks, and centrally-managed auditing of suppliers and supply chains.

SUPC is affiliated to Electronics Watch, but this affiliation does not extend to members. However, SUPC include the Electronics Watch terms and conditions in any relevant contracts, such as Apple.


Sustainable Catering

Within tender documentation, we always try to implement the Sustainable Food Policy. This includes prioritising local products where possible, and looking for Fairtrade or equivalent products.

Central Procurement are trying to be pro-active in the areas that they assess. This includes contacting some of our farmers to ask about the use of antibiotics in their supply chain. Antibiotic resistance has become a big issue, and use of antibiotics in the food chain is believed to contribute to this.

For more information on our approach to sustainable food you can visit our sustainable food page.

The Procurement Team are always looking for ways to reduce the impact of the supplies and services that we purchase and at the same time save money.

Our staff are the universities biggest asset and one of the best routes for generating innovative ideas to improve the way we buy and reduce our impact on the environment and society.

The Procurement Team have launched a staff suggestion scheme: if you have a suggestion relating to purchasing at the UEA they would love to hear from you. They will assess each suggestion received and at the end of the year a judging panel will assess the suggestions and a prize will be given to the suggestions that are taken forward and have had the biggest impact at the University.

Please send your suggestions to the procurement team.