Sustainable Purchasing

student on campus fairtrade designation day
UVic community member celebrates Love-A-Mug week with Fairtrade Coffee Coupons

UVic's purchasing decisions provide a vital opportunity to support the local economy and invest in the growing climate-forward industry.  

UVic works with Purchasing Services, UVic Food Services, Student Affairs, UVSS and GSS to develop meaningful purchasing relationships with product and service providers that promote environmental and social procurement practices.

For detailed information on sustainable purchasing, see below:

Sustainable procurement

  • Making sustainable choices through procurement and purchasing choices is one of the greatest influences we can support as a university. Everyone can participate and contribute through their daily activities on campus.  
  • Uvic prioritized people, place, and planet as part of its ongoing strategic framework. As one of Canada’s best employers, and greenest employers we invest in our people. Through intentional land-use, indigenous collaboration, and climate considerations we seek to provide affordable housing for the campus community, and through policy and education we hope to steward sustainable purchasing choices throughout the campus experience.  
  • UVic defines sustainable procurement as applying sustainability principles and supplier communication practices that result in the lowest negative environmental impact and the highest positive social outcomes.   

How do I practice sustainable procurement?

  • Visit the Purchasing Services to identify what you are buying, and the processes involved.  

What is UVic doing to advance sustainable procurement practices

Supplier code of Conduct  
  • The Supplier Code of Conduct applies to all suppliers and sub-contractors and ensures our ability to invest in partners who share our values of social, environmental, and ethical responsibility. 
  • We seek only work with partners who comply with local and international laws, and who are committed to continuous improvement for the well-being of their workers, the community, and the environment. 
Sustainable Purchasing Policy  
  • Through our purchasing policy, we seek to drive positive change, foster innovation, and demonstrate accountability to the communities we serve. This policy has been developed for the purpose of engaging suppliers in operational advancement in climate action and sustainability, collecting data regarding sustainability metrics, and informing the carbon impact of procurement decisions on campus.  
ECO Vadis  
  • UVic is the first Canadian university to partner with EcoVadis, a global sustainability assessment service helping organizations evaluate the environmental, ethical and social performance of their suppliers.  
  • Learn more about the benefits of encouraging suppliers and partners to participate in an ECO Vadis assessment for liability assurance.  
Fair Trade  
  • All the coffee and tea products on campus are fair trade certified, Fairtrade is a promise that ensures the farmer or producer of their product(s) receives fair compensation for their goods and services and provides them with a voice in the global trade market. 
  • As part of UVic’s annual greenhouse gas reporting to the BC Climate Secretariat we account for and off-set (to reach carbon neutrality) the carbon emissions associated to the entire lifecycle of the paper purchased by the Purchasing Department.  
  • In addition to offsetting the emissions associated with the paper we purchase; we also choose environmentally preferred paper that is either post-consumer recycled or Forest Stewardship Council FSC certified. By investing in third-party certified office paper UVic contributes to the conservation of water, energy, and virgin forests.  
Printing Services 
  • UVic Printing Services is the University’s on-campus printing provider who prints on Domtar Earth Choice 30% post-consumer recycled paper by default. They also provide toner recycling for Ricoh and Kyocera. 
  • By choosing UVIc Printing Services the carbon footprint is much lower by nature of its locality.  
Cleaning products and equipment 
  • Facilities Management has issued a Green Cleaning Policy on campus outlining the minimum criteria for green cleaning products and equipment on campus. As a result, 100% of janitorial paper, cleaning products, and equipment must meet or exceed the program standards of: Green Seal , UL EcoLogo, EC EcoLogo, FSC, and/or EPA. 
  • By switching to non-toxic cleaning products, institutions reduce exposure impacts for all building occupants and the environment, thereby promoting clean and healthy work, living, and learning spaces.   
Indigenous Procurement  
  • UVic's Purchasing Services not only recognizes the importance of Indigenous participation in the acquisition of goods and services but also the opportunity to build mutually beneficial relationships and further reconciliation.  
  • Purchasing Services at the University of Victoria (UVic) has collaborated with UVic’s Indigenous Departments to develop meaningful and collaborative procurement guidelines, which seek to reduce barriers and foster deeper engagement with Indigenous artists and businesses within UVic’s procurement process. 
  • This commitment is rooted in their earnest desire to promote Indigenous entrepreneurship, stimulate economic development, and foster sustainable growth. 
  • University Food Services has committed to prioritizing the purchase of plant-based and sustainably or ethically produced food and beverage items to reduce the social and environmental impacts of food production, help foster food security, and invest in a future with healthier soils and waterways.  
  • They design a plant-forward menu, where meat substitutes are available by opting-in. This menu architecture has increased their unprocessed or minimally processed plant-based purchases by 20% from 2020-2022.  
  • They work with FEED BC to procure over 50% of food from suppliers in BC, many of whom are located within 50 km of campus.  
  • They are mindful about which kind of food products must be third-party certified (I.e., all Tuna is Ocean-wise certified, all coffee is Fair-Trade), vs. purchased locally using local ingredients, and are cost-effective.  
  • Providing high-quality, nutrient dense, climate-friendly food options is the priority for UVic food services and they do this through their holistic and mindful approach to menu design, supplier relationships, and reporting frameworks.  
Uvic Bookstore  
  • The UVic Bookstore is an example of intentional, holistic procurement practices on campus. They focus on: 
  • Sourcing and featuring Canadian products. 
  • Providing recycled, and reusable school supply products produced from renewable resources. 
  • Selecting brands who have stated sustainability and social-wellness goals in their mission and vision statements.  
  • Promoting sustainable options for the campus community (like reusable drinkware) 
  • Minimizing their own footprint by repurposing packaging, recycling electronics, and proper waste diversion.  
  • Hosting a user-friendly online textbook buyback service that seeks to provide students with affordable, eco-friendly options in their selected studies on campus.  
  • 100% of electronics purchased by UVic Purchasing Services are EPEAT certified. This is a third-party certification that evaluates products based on their energy efficiency, reduction and elimination of environmentally sensitive materials, materials selection, design for end-of-life, product longevity and life cycle extension, end-of-life management, corporate performance, and packaging characteristics.  
  • UVic has developed strategic alliance contracts with that offer furniture made from renewable resources, such as wood certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or with recycled materials (100% recycled polyester).   
  • Standard office furniture comes from Calstone's line of environmentally friendly furniture with a zero-waste manufacturing process. 
  • By avoiding the purchase of new university commercial furnishings, the Surplus Program has conservatively avoided 3.1 million km of new product transport and avoided approximately 3 metric tonnes of CO2e emissions associated with the manufacturing of new products. 
  • All new building developments are approached with careful consideration of the social and environmental needs of the future campus community, and appropriate consultation with UVic's Indigenous Department.  
  • The new Indigenous Law Building is led by Indigenous-owned and operated architects and construction groups Two Row Architect, Teeple Architects, Low, Hammond, Row Architects and Chandos Construction. The building will be LEED Gold certified allowing the campus to expand offerings for a socially-well future while maintaining its commitments to net zero emissions by 2040. 
  • Mass Timber Frames found in the new Čeqʷəŋín ʔéʔləŋ (Cheko’nien House were procured using timber sourced in BC from a supplier in the Kootenays and is an example of sustainable purchasing considerations from “cradle-to-gate" where the associated emissions to extract, manufacture, and dispose of wood construction are significantly lower than steel or concrete.  
Lab equipment 
  • UVic’s Science Store and Occupational Health and Safety have been showcasing cradle-to-grave best practices for decades because that is the nature of the field. Thermo Fisher Scientific Equipment is one of the main suppliers of lab equipment to campus and has been assessed by the Eco Vadis Tool.  
  • Procurement of chemicals and research equipment is highly regulated and proper end-of-life practices are the key components to a sustainable research program.  
  • UVic has developed a list of “greener product” options, a Green Labs program, and works closely with the Energy Management team to monitor the emissions associated to these energy intensive spaces on campus to meet out 2040 net zero targets.  
  • Work is governed by purchasing policy, service faculty of science and medical studies. Some times engineering and other units.  
  • Purchased by standing agreements or on credit card  
  • Used to track equipment, no longer.  
  • The University of Victoria has adopted a responsible investment policy that resulted in a quarter billion-dollar divestment of capital funds away from fossil fuel investments in 2021.   
  • Led by student advocacy, the voices of the future campus community, a balance of divestment from fossil fuel companies and prioritizing capital investments in climate resilient and sustainable solutions is a key priority for the Board of Governers and the University of Victoria Foundation 
Join the movement – we need help understanding the range of purchases that occur throughout campus. Please email to share your success story to be included in this webpage.  

Why is sustainable purchasing important?

  • Purchasing is the point of entry of all purchased goods and services on campus. Reducing how much we buy and being intentional about what we do buy and accountable for how we manage our purchases at their end-of-life will have an exponential impact on campus waste, the local economy, the broader community, marginalized communities, future generations and our commitments to the UN’s Global Goals and Net Zero emissions.  
  • The sustainable purchasing policy and its implementation guidance is a Strategy outlined in the Climate and Sustainability Action Plan (2030) and will involve the collective efforts of all campus portfolios, academics and curriculum, research and innovation, external, Indigenous, international relations, community and government relations, communications, finance and operations to guide UVic as we address and adapt to global challenges faced by all universities. 

Total Cost of Ownership: Life Cycle Approach

  • UVic’s Climate and Sustainability Action Plan (2030) has a stated goal of achieving Platinum ranking in the AASHE STARS (sustainability tracking, assessment, and reporting system).  
  • To achieve this, we have updated our Sustainable Purchasing Policy to consider a life cycle cost analysis for all purchased goods.  
  • A Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) is a method for assessing the total cost of ownership over the life cycle of a product or system (i.e., purchase, installation, operation, maintenance, and disposal). 
  • LCCA incorporates future costs such as maintenance, replacement of parts, energy use and disposal, and evaluates them on the basis of Net Present Value. LCCA can also be used to incorporate environmental and social life cycle costs, such as the cost of purchasing pollution offsets or monitoring labor practices.  

Canada’s Circular Economy

  • A circular economy aims to maximize value and eliminate waste with strategies such as: 
  • Decreasing the use of virgin materials and non-renewable resources and increasing the use of renewable resources and recycled materials. 
  • Dramatically reducing the negative environmental impacts of economic development (such as pollution) through carbon-neutrality, using non-toxic materials and other strategies. 
  • Shifting from linear supply chains that produce disposable products to circular supply chains that produce ongoing services (product-as-service). 
  • Shifting from "waste management" to "resource recovery" where everything has a value and zero waste goes to landfill  
  • In 2023, Canada released a Circular Economy Action Plan, which highlighted policy and sustainable procurement as one of five key enablers for accelerating Canada towards its commitments to net-zero emissions by 2050, United Nations Sustainability Development Goals, zero plastic, and halting and reversing nature loss in Canada by 2030.  
  • UVic has developed its Sustainable Purchasing Policy with this Action Plan to align with a harmonized policy framework across Canada to drive circular economy activities and investments, support economic prosperity for Canadians today and for future generations. 

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call to action to protect our planet while promoting prosperity for everyone, everywhere. At UVic we care deeply about these goals and are committed to driving the critical social, economic and environmental change needed to reach them. - UVic President Kevin Hall 

 Sustainable purchasing principles support this by: 

  • Promoting sustainable public procurement practices (SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production) 
  • Encouraging suppliers and vendors to adopt sustainable practices and be assessed by Ecovadis (SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production) 
  • Pay attention to fair trade label products which indicate fair and ethical relationships with producers from developing countries (SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals)