Intro to Sustainable Purchasing
What does sustainable purchasing mean at the University of Saskatchewan? It means:
- Critical evaluation of products, services and processes;
- Moving the university towards procurement decisions that provide the best value; and
- Including total cost of ownership (i.e. cradle to grave) with the lowest environmental and social impacts.
In sustainable purchasing, we often refer to the term "cradle to grave", which refers to accounting for all of the costs and returns present in a product's total lifespan. These include:
- How the products are made,
- What they are made of,
- Where they come from,
- How they will be used, and
- How will they be disposed of.
As a general guideline, refer to the Checklist for Sustainable Purchasing when trying to identify if a product adheres to sustainable standards.
U of S Supplier Partnerships
The University of Saskatchewan currently maintains supplier partnerships with two organizations who have committed to providing sustainable purchasing options for their products.
Fisher Scientific is a major supplier of scientific equipment and instruments. Their sustainability program helps customers and suppliers protect and preserve the environment while working to reduce carbon emissions.
Supreme Basics is a major office and learning product supplier who includes commitments to environmental and social responsibliity in the purchasing agreements.
Self-Service Sustainable Purchasing Checklist
Recycled fabrics, biodegradable dyes, certification of fair labor practices, organic fibers and renewable materials are preferred. Treatment with chlorine based bleaches, and wrinkle-resistant materials are avoided.
Products manufactured in Canada, encased products, natural fibers, natural latex foam is preferred. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, wrinkle-resistant fabrics and polyurethane foam is avoided.
EcoLogo certified products, appropriate amounts of sealant, durable and long-lasting, water-based clean-up are preferred. High VOC compounds (>5% by weight) or heavy metals are avoided.
Fair-trade, Ecologo certified products, water or C02 decaffeination, shade grown or organically grown is preferred. Excess packaging and chemical decaffeination is avoided.
Eco-Logo certified products, natural acetate-based de-icers and calcium chloride are preferred. Sodium and magnesium chloride and phosphates as a corrosion inhibitor are avoided.
Eco-Logo certified organic compost and cadmium-free fertilizers are preferred. Native species that don't require fertilizers are also recommended. Chemical fertilizers and sewer sludge fertilizers are avoided.
Low in sulfur and/or additives, low carbon content (such as natural gas or propane) and mixtures with renewable products (biodiesel or ethanol) are preferred. High carbon content (such as gasoline or diesel) is avoided.
Eco-Logo and FSC certified, natural fibers, locally manufactured and Canadian made, latex foam and refurbished furniture are preferred. Plastic foam containing CFCs or HCFCs, formaldehyde and VOC emitting materials, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, synthetic fibers and polyurethane foam are avoided.
EcoLogo or Green Seal certified products, biocompatibility, food grade dyes and approved fragrances and strict toxicity limits are preferred. Alkylphenolethoxylate surfants, toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds are avoided.
Durable, high quality tools and sustainable materials, high percentage of post-consumer materials and locally produced products are preferred. Toxic finished and virgin plastic is avoided.
High post-consumer recycled fibre content, non-wood fibers, chlorine free, paper that is less bright and Eco-Logo certified is preferred. Long distance transport and unsustainable harvested wood resources are avoided.
EcoLogo certified, soy-based and vegetable-based inks, water-less printing and low VOC ink are preferred. Heavy metals and petroleum-based ink are avoided.
Alternatives to typical promotional items, suppliers with sustainability policies, natural and organic fibers, recycled or recyclable products and fair-trade is preferred. Plastics, one-time-use or disposable products and synthetic fibers are avoided.
Durability, reparable, recyclable and Fair-Trade, EcoLogo or FCS certified is preferred. Conventionally tanned leather and composite or hybrid materials are avoided.
Sea and rail freight, carbon-offsetting, consolidated and scheduled delivery and minimal packaging are preferred. Air freight and daily and on-demand delivery is avoided.
An appropriate number of machines, Energy Star approved machines,efficient lighting and proximity sensors are preferred. Plastic components, CFC and HCFC refrigerants are avoided.
Reusable packaging, recycled content, recyclable content, paper-based products, and biodegradable or biocompatible products are preferred. Expanded polystyrene is avoided.
Recycled plastic wood, FSC certified lumber, fast growing renewable materials and reused or recycled lumber is preferred. Virgin lumber, formaldehyde and VOCs and CCA pressure treated wood is avoided.
Reusable pens and pencils, recycled materials, soy-based or vegetable inks, fine points and alcohol-based dry-erase markers are preferred. Petrochemical-based materials, inks containing heavy metals, solvent-based markers, and ketone-based dry-erase markers are avoided.
Sustainable Purchasing Certifications
Many certification bodies exist for sustainable products and there is no single perfect certification. As such, always be sure that if you are pursuing sustainable purchasing certifications that they correspond to the sustainability goals of your group and that they do not result in the 'greenwashing' of your purchasing practices.
A collection of information about the available sustainable purchasing certifications can be found in our Sustainable Purchasing Certifications document.