18 September 2003 | David Arminas
University purchasers should work with their major suppliers to ensure sound environmental practices are part of working processes down the supply chain.
Lorraine Thomas, national contracts director for office stationery and equipment supplier Guilbert UK, told delegates that clients should have a choice of products and services based on environmental information.
But similarly, the major suppliers are obliged to show their clients that their own supply chain is environmentally sound.
She told SM: "It is a two-strand theme. Guilbert must offer clients a choice based on environmental criteria such as product labelling, products with maximum recycled material and raw material from sustainable environments."
But Guilbert, which sells around £20 million of goods and services annually to higher education, must itself have sound environmental practices, she added.
Mike Briggs, purchasing and environment manager at Leeds Metropolitan University, agreed there was a need to have a choice based on environmental criteria.
"Different university departments have different needs, especially if they are teaching environmental courses," he said.
"Good environmental practices by the suppliers is another way to sell our purchasing contracts to the university. But pressure also comes from students, who are our customers too."
Briggs's department recently received the environmental standard ISO 14001 for facilities management and procurement.