As part of our Sustainability Sub-Strategy consultation, you raised some important issues related to finance and ways the university community could be involved in sustainability. We have been taking on board your feedback and wanted to update you with information on what’s available and what we have planned.
Goods and services
You said: We should research the environmental impact of goods and services.
We offer: Where possible we already flag approved products and services based on sustainability considerations, to help you to make informed choices. For example, it’s easy to identify ‘eco’ stationery products via Office Depot, and our travel partners indicate carbon impacts on flight bookings (and where possible will suggest trains as the alternative).
We receive estimated scope 3 emissions based on spend from the Southern Universities Procurement Consortium, and are in the early stages of further estimating these impacts in more detail. The University has over 30,000 suppliers, and access to millions of products – so you can see the scale of the challenge this poses.
Where applicable, environmental considerations are embedded into the procurement tender process, to ensure that the suppliers we work with are aligned with our own policies on sustainability. For example, when the multi-function printer/scanner/copiers were procured, low energy usage was a key consideration, and these have also allowed us to introduce our Managed Print Copy Scan service.
We’re working on:
- Embedding sustainability into the procurement process further. Working closely with partners we will optimise environmental decisions on the supply of goods and services.
- Minimising waste and increasing the efficient use of resources to drive down carbon and environmental impacts is a central tenet of sustainability, and we are exploring how we can make better use of existing assets, as well as the procurement of new goods and services.
In September 2022, the Procurement and Sustainability teams will be leading a training workshop to highlight existing practices and ways that you can consider sustainability when making purchases.
You said: We should minimise deliveries to campus
We offer: With most purchasing decisions decentralised at the University, it can be challenging to control the frequency of deliveries and the vehicles that bring them to our campuses. Currently Office Deport only deliver to campus twice per week. Where possible we encourage teams to plan ahead and group orders together (for example via Amazon) to avoid small orders coming individually. For larger orders it is easier to manage deliveries (for example furniture) as this is more efficient for the supplier too.
We’re working on: Identifying opportunities to streamline services with our suppliers and setting out our requirements. Where possible, we will ask suppliers to remove items such as packaging to avoid additional journeys.
You said: The University should not fund in fossil fuels/arms companies
We offer: We are proud to say that Essex does not hold any investments in companies that generates turnover from fossil fuel extraction, nor those involved in the production or supply of weapons of any kind. This is a strong part of our values, with links right back to the founding of the University in the 1960s. Our Statement Investment in Principles details the University's policy on ethical investments, and is reviewed triennially, or as required, by the Investment Sub-committee.
We’re working on: As part of our continuous improvement and development, the Statement of Investment Principles is currently being updated to further clarify our expectations on social responsibility and environmental sustainability to ensure our financial partners are aligned with our own principle and values.
Our commitment to change
We want to ensure sustainable and environmental impacts are a key component of financial decision making and that we proactively champion initiatives that work towards the University’s declaration of a climate and ecological emergency.
We are on a journey of improvement and development; there are many challenges ahead, but also a lot of exciting opportunities. To learn more about our ambitions and progress, visit the sustainability webpages. We have been providing updates on our response to your feedback to the consultation in a series of blogs – please check back regularly to learn more.