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.

Financial Services also maintains a wiki page on Where to Buy Goods and Services that features some sustainable purchasing options. Check the link below to learn more about it.

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

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

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

For purchasing managers looking to ensure that sustainable purchasing guidelines are followed in their work, the Sustainable Purchasing Checklist provides a list of questions to answer about the product in question.

Specific Protocols

EcoLogo certified, recycled, extended-life antifreeze or polypropylene glycol are preferred. Ethylene glycol is avoided.

Sustainable Antifreeze Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Apparel Purchasing Protocols

EcoLogo certified, rechargeable, extended life and recyclable batteries are preferred.

Sustainable Battery Purchasing Protocols

Products manufactured in Canada, encased products, natural fibers, natural latex foam is preferred. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, wrinkle-resistant fabrics and polyurethane foam is avoided.

Sustainable Bedding Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Caulking Compound Purchasing Protocols

Take-back programs and sustainable design innovations are preferred. Paper billing is avoided.

Sustainable Cell Phone Purchasing Protocols

Fair-trade, Ecologo certified products, water or C02 decaffeination, shade grown or organically grown is preferred. Excess packaging and chemical decaffeination is avoided.

Sustainable Coffee & Tea Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable De-Icer Purchasing Protocols

Eco-Logo, EPEAT or Energy Star certified, recyclable products, take-back programs, leased electronics and multi-functional devices are preferred.

Sustainable Electronic Equipment Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Fertilizers Purchasing Protocols

Energy Star approved, recyclable products and durable, long-lasting equipment is preferred. High plastic content is avoided.

Sustainable Food Service Equipment Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Fuel Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Furniture Purchasing Protocols

EcoLogo certified products, bio-plastics and high recycled plastic content is preferred. Petroleum-derived plastics are avoided.

Sustainable Garbage Bag Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Hand Cleaner Purchasing Protocols

Durable, high quality tools and sustainable materials are preferred. Plastic components and compound or hybrid materials are avoided.

Sustainable Hand Tool Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Horticulture Tool Purchasing Protocols

Energy Star or Ecologo approved appliances and favourable Energuide rating are preferred. Disposing of used appliance in a landfill is avoided.

Sustainable Large Appliance Purchasing Protocols

Eco-Logo certified, occupancy sensors and energy efficient designs and bulbs including LEDs are preferred.

Sustainable Light Bulb Purchasing Protocols

EcoLogo certified, recycled products and water-based solvents (“latex”) are preferred. VOCs and petrochemical-based components are avoided.

Sustainable Paint Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Paper Product Purchasing Protocols

EcoLogo certified products and sustainable harvested paper is preferred. Virgin paper materials and chlorine bleached paper is avoided.

Sustainable Paperboard Packaging Purchasing Protocols

Recycled PVC material is preferred. Excessive piping should  be avoided.

Sustainable Piping Product Purchasing Protocols

EcoLogo certified products, bio-plastics and paper products are preferred. Conventional plastic film is avoided.

Sustainable Plastic Film Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Printing Ink Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Promotional Material Purchasing Protocols

Recycled content, supplementary cementing material and permeable pavement are preferred. Virgin materials are avoided.

Sustainable Road Material Purchasing Protocols

Recycled sorbents, the correct sorbent for the spill, and biocompatible sorbents are preferred. Reusable sorbents are avoided.

Sustainable Sorbent Purchasing Protocols

Durability, reparable, recyclable and Fair-Trade, EcoLogo or FCS certified is preferred.  Conventionally tanned leather and composite or hybrid materials are avoided.

Sustainable Sports Equipment Purchasing Protocols

Low resistance tires, Eco-Logo certified, retreaded tires and long life and wear performance are preferred. High resistance tires are avoided.

Sustainable Tire Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Transport Purchasing Protocols

High fuel efficiency, designed for easy reuse or recycling and right-sized vehicles are preferred. Mercury in headlights and switches is avoided.

Sustainable Vehicle Purchasing Protocols

An appropriate number of machines, Energy Star approved machines,efficient lighting and proximity sensors are preferred. Plastic components, CFC and HCFC refrigerants are avoided.

Sustainable Vending Machine Purchasing Protocols

Reusable packaging, recycled content, recyclable content, paper-based products, and biodegradable or biocompatible products are preferred. Expanded polystyrene is avoided.

Sustainable Void Filler Purchasing Protocols

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.

Sustainable Wood Product Purchasing Protocols

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 Writing Instrument Purchasing Protocols

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.