Sustainable purchasing

Only by making informed purchasing decisions can we have a positive impact on the environment. These decisions are made across the University by staff every day. The Environmental Sustainability team works closely with the Finance Division’s Purchasing team.

What are we doing?

We actively encourage staff to build sustainable and life-cycle considerations into every purchasing decision. We want to ensure that everyone involved in procuring goods and services across the University routinely considers how we can:

  • enhance and protect our shared environment
  • contribute to the health and well-being of society
  • build a sustainable economy through our procurement decisions.

Our six procurement priorities are to: 

  1. optimise the use of natural resources
  2. manage waste in the supply chain effectively
  3. manage the delivery of goods and services effectively
  4. support the management of our carbon impact
  5. work with suppliers and departments to raise awareness of sustainability
  6. ensure that ethical considerations and a living wage are considered.

Preferred suppliers

Many of the University’s preferred suppliers take back their packaging and recyclable waste, and some suppliers also have green products and other sustainability services. You can find information about these initiatives here: Sustainability services preferred suppliers 

Other areas of focus

Living wage

Oxford is accredited as a living wage employer. The bottom points of the pay scale are therefore reviewed annually in line with the increase in the living wage.

You can find the University of Oxford on the Living Wage Website.

How you can help

Avoid unnecessary purchases and use WARPit, a website enabling colleges and departments to share useful items they no longer need.

It's a great way to avoid purchasing costs or the cost of a skip, as well as negative environmental impact from waste. Find out about WARPit.

Join in Green Impact, an accreditation scheme which provides simple ways for staff and students to improve the sustainable practices of their department or college.

It includes a section on purchasing and encourages departments to consider Fairtrade and recycled choices. Visit Green Impact.

Avoid unnecessary waste. If you're thinking about purchasing a new product for yourself or your department first ask yourself: is it really needed or could you reuse or mend?  Think about the life cycle of the product and apply the Sustainable Procurement Strategy. Then encourage others to do the same!

If you work or study at the University, you can access training for an Introduction to Purchasing. This includes a section on sustainability.  Visit the University Purchasing website

Spread the word

If you work or study at the University, find out what your college or department is doing in terms of sustainable purchasing. Or maybe you have an amazing idea? Tell the Environmental Sustainability team. We would love to hear your stories and share them.

Get in touch at

Read more

Explore the sustainability services offered by the University's preferred suppliers


Get in touch

+44 (0) 1865 6 14605