Our tips for sustainable procurement

Going green needn’t cost the earth. Here’s how to adapt your buying policy to reflect your school’s environmental values

Develop procurement expertise

Train or employ someone to coordinate everything centrally.

Plan ahead

Could you gain from economies of scale by bundling together purchases from the same supplier to cut delivery costs and mileage? Are there any alternative solutions to buying things, such as sharing equipment with another school?

Buy green

Look at the options for recycled paper and stationery, eco-friendly cleaning products, energy-efficient machinery and kitchen equipment, fuel-efficient vehicles and water-saving equipment.

Alternatives to buying

Are there spares that can be borrowed from within your school or from another school?  Before buying new stock, consider holding stationery amnesties or scavenger hunts to collect in unused and forgotten-about supplies from the back of cupboards or drawers.

Look at the impact

Focus on areas with the greatest potential impact on cost savings and waste reduction over time, namely energy, water, ICT and furniture.

Sustainable paper use

More than half the waste produced by schools is paper or card, but simple actions can make a difference. If all schools bought recycled stationery, only printed when necessary and recycled all waste paper, the DfE estimates this would lead to a 7% cut in procurement-related emissions.

Buy food locally and seasonally

On average, food accounts for 22% of a school’s procurement carbon footprint so reducing food miles and buying fresh produce in season can have a big impact.

Work collaboratively

Improve your buying power by working with other schools to source sustainable goods and services collectively so you can get the best price for goods with high standards of environmental, social and ethical performance. This can also help with obtaining regular and reliable equipment servicing contracts that will avoid wastage in the longer term.

Get it in writing

Understand your contracts and make sure you’re getting what you paid for.

Share best practice

If you’ve done a good sustainable deal or found a reliable supplier, then let other schools know. Ask other schools about their experiences of sustainable products and deals.

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