Pilot project buys in to sustainable procurement

UVic’s purchasing department has kicked off a pilot project with EcoVadis, a global sustainability rating company that uses international standards to conduct sustainability performance assessments of supply chain partners.

The one-year pilot during 2021, funded through the Campus Sustainability Fund, is the first use of the EcoVadis corporate social responsibility ratings at a Canadian university.

“Our team endeavours to apply triple bottom line principles to procurement initiatives, in line with the goals of the university’s Sustainability Action Plan and Strategic Framework. This means considering the financial, social and environmental impacts of our purchases,” says Xavier Serrano, director of purchasing services. “This project will help us ensure our key suppliers adhere to UVic’s Supplier Code of Conduct and foster improvements in their sustainability performance.”

The EcoVadis platform is a subscription-based service that assesses suppliers’ sustainability practices across four categories: environment, labour and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement. Suppliers receive an overall rating that compares them to their industry peers, as well as a scorecard that highlights their strengths and areas for improvement. In order to achieve a high rating a supplier must show they have effective sustainability policies, practices and monitoring in place.

“We are looking forward to developing stronger relationships with our suppliers and working together on any areas of improvement identified in the EcoVadis report,” says Serrano.  

In 2020 Purchasing Services introduced a Supplier Code of Conduct, which outlines the ethical, social and environmental standards expected of UVic suppliers. The pilot project will target the university’s biggest suppliers during the first year and, if successful, will be expanded.

The EcoVadis pilot is an accelerated action in support of UVic’s developing Climate and Sustainability Action Plan that will be released early next year. Sustainable procurement falls within Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption & Production) of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Keywords: sustainability, administrative, purchasing, operations

People: Xavier Serrano

Publication: The Ring

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