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Sustainable production and consumption

As a large organisation, the way we procure goods and services and the way we invest our funds can have a significant impact on the world around us.

We want to make sure that we use sustainably minded sources and that we consume resources in a sustainable way.

We're building strong relationships with our suppliers, so that we can reduce our environmental impact together.

Procurement and supplier relationships

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We recognise the need to be responsible in our choice of suppliers and understanding of the life cycle of what we buy. The principles behind our procurement policies aim to:

  • Appoint environmentally responsible suppliers
  • Take a long-term partnership approach with key suppliers to reduce our joint environmental impact
  • Endeavour to purchase goods and services with the least environmental impact during their life cycle
  • Reduce paper-based transactions within the purchase cycle
  • Support local businesses and local economy wherever possible
  • The University is a member of the North Eastern Universities' Purchasing Consortium (NEUPC) who, together with Sustainable Procurement Centre of Excellence, produced a NEUPC SPCE Sustainable Procurement Policy (PDF , 78kb). We subscribe to the principles included in this document.
  • Our York Print Plus project replaced personal printers with multi-functional devices shared by offices to reduce paper, consumables and power usage
  • Our business travel service SLA encourages the use of a single supplier to enable us to accurately measure our carbon footprint from business travel
  • Our e-purchasing system is reducing paper transactions and building up a chosen supplier base with known sustainability credentials
  • Our Design and Print team use FSC certified paper and water-based inks for their printed materials.

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 Eat, Shop and Drink food outlets, we have an obligation to deliver food and dispose of its waste responsibly.

  • Our outlets offer a range of products based on raw materials from ethical and sustainable sources
  • All our fresh eggs are 'Lion Branded' free-range
  • We purchase most of our raw materials from regional suppliers
  • Most of our meat comes fresh from the region, from suppliers demonstrating the highest animal welfare standards
  • Our fish comes from suppliers following the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. We do not purchase endangered species.
  • We're working with local suppliers to reduce food packaging
  • We sell food that would otherwise go to waste in our outlets at discounted rate

Commercial Services sustainability

The NETpositive tool

Working with NETPostive Futures, we've introduced a tool for suppliers to generate their own bespoke Sustainability Action Plan. It's free, easy to use and allows organisations to:

  • Undertake a simple sustainability analysis of business impacts
  • Create a bespoke plan to become more sustainable, in-line with Provider Organisation aspirations
  • Find supporting, business-relevant sustainability information 
  • Demonstrate progress against their individual action plans
  • Use the plan to communicate what they are actually doing, not just what they're committed to at a policy level

Sign up to NETpositives

The YORCUP scheme

The YORCUP scheme combines the convenience of a disposable cup with the environmental benefits of a reusable one. Available to purchase from any outlet across campus, it can be kept and refilled to save paying the latte levy, or returned to be cleaned and reused. Simply hold onto the sleeve and present it next time to be given a clean, reused cup.

  • The cups are made in the UK from a supplier based in Doncaster, ensuring our support of the local economy. In 2023, over 10,000 students and staff have joined the scheme, helping to reduce our campus use of single-use plastic coffee cups by over 1 million since the start of the YORCUP scheme.

Find out more about YORCUP

Coffee cup recycling bins

If you don't have a YORCUP or your own reusable cup and find yourself needing to use a disposable one, look out for the giant coffee cup shaped bins on campus!

The bins are here to collect your single-use cups, ready for them to be recycled and the materials used again. Since their introduction, we have recycled over 42,000 single-use coffee cups with the help of Forge Recycling.

Remember, using disposable cups will mean you're subject to paying the latte levy.

Find the nearest coffee cup recycling bin

IT equipment 

We partner with Stone Group who provide us with high-quality laptops and PCS. 

Once these devices are no longer fit for purpose they are recycled using Stone’s Reuse Recycling and Disposal framework, this ensures that no unwanted IT equipment goes to landfill.  

Over the course of this partnership, the University has so far saved 44.1 metric tonnes of IT equipment from landfill by either recycling or refurbishing more than 4,500 unwanted devices.

When the University uses the Stone 360 app to book collections of these unwanted laptops and PCs, we also contribute to their tree planting programme and earn cash rebates(many of which are donated to charity).

Find out more about recycling IT equipment 

Choosing a renewable for our high performance compute facility Viking

In October 2023 we moved our research computer cluster Viking to EcoDataCenter in Sweden. Viking is used to complete high performance computing tasks and supports research and teaching at the University however it also uses a lot of energy. We chose to move our clusters to EcoDataCenter as it is the first data centre to be made from wood and runs on 100% renewable energy; 75% from hydropower and 25% from wind power. The centre also uses the excess heat created by computer clusters to dry wood and create pellets which are a renewable energy source. More information on moving Viking to EcoDataCenter. 

Contact us

Sustainability at York

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