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Sustainable procurement 

For a large organisation like the University of York, it's not just how we conduct our core business of research and teaching that makes a difference. The way we procure goods and services and the way we invest our funds can also have a significant impact on our local community and the wider world.


Fairtrade logo 

We work closely with the Students' Union to improve the availability of Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance products across our campus.

All of our catering outlets serve Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance coffee and tea as the standard offering. They also serve a choice of Fairtrade juices, confectionery and cakes. All of our coffee vending machines stock Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance products. The Nisa retail outlets on campus also stock a wide range of Fairtrade groceries.

Procurement and supplier relationships

The University is a large-scale purchaser and consumer of a variety of goods and services from food to lab equipment, buildings to stationery. We recognise and accept the need to be responsible in our choice of suppliers and our understanding of the life cycle of the goods we buy.

The underlying principles behind out procurement policies demonstrate our commitment to:

  • ensuring we appoint environmentally responsible suppliers wherever practical
  • taking a long-term partnership approach with key suppliers to reduce our joint environmental impact
  • endeavouring to purchase goods and services with the least environmental impact during their life cycle
  • reduce the number of paper-based transactions within the purchase-to-pay cycle
  • ensure we support local businesses and the economy wherever possible

The University acted as a member of the North Eastern Universities' Purchasing Consortium (NEUPC), who, together with Sustainable Procurement Centre of Excellence produced a sustainable procurement policy, we subscribe to the principles included in this document.

Examples of where we have projects in place to deliver our commitments include:

  • York Print Plus - a managed print project to remove and replace personal printers with multi-functional devices shared by offices to reduce paper, consumables and power usage
  • Business travel SLA - encouraging use of a single supplier to enable us to accurately measure our carbon footprint from business travel
  • e-procurement - introduction of a managed e-purchasing system to reduce paper transactions and build up a chosen supplier base with known sustainability credentials

If you are a member of staff, you may also find the information contained in our sustainable procurement guidelines useful.

If you are a current or potential supplier you should be aware the University encourages all organisations to register with the NETPositives Engagement tool.

Food procurement

With a large number of restaurants, food and drink outlets and catering facilities, the University has an obligation to purchase, prepare, deliver food and dispose of waste as responsibly as it can. Here are some examples of how we do this:

  • Our restaurants, cafés and snack bars offer a range of products based on raw materials from ethical and sustainable sources
  • All fresh eggs are 'Lion Branded' free range
  • To keep road miles to a minimum we purchase most of our raw materials from suppliers within the Yorkshire and Humberside region
  • Most of our meat comes fresh from the Yorkshire and Humberside region using suppliers who demonstrate the highest standards of animal welfare
  • Our fish comes from suppliers who comply with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. We do not purchase endangered species (eg Bluefin tuna)
  • Tap water is available in most outlets
  • In line with the University's Environmental Sustainability Policy we strive to minimise the amount of waste (particularly that sent to landfill) at the same time as balancing customer demand for convenience packaging and disposables for food and beverages
  • We are working with our local suppliers to reduce food packaging wherever possible

Did you know...?

  • All University restaurants and cafes serve Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance tea and coffee as standard
  • We are well on our way towards 100% recycled paper throughout the University
  • Most of our fruit and veg is seasonal and from sources within the Yorkshire and Humberside region

Key contacts

Potential and current suppliers

The University encourages all organisations to register with the NETPositives Engagement tool