Sustainable Procurement

Scope 3 influenceable procurement expenditure (excluding transport and travel) is largely dominated by estates and facilities, information technology, laboratories and other operating expenditure.

The University is reliant upon the HESCET tool which translates financial expenditure into equivalent emissions.  The tool is a blunt instrument, as it looks at category of expenditure rather than the individual supplier.  Via the Higher Education Procurement Association (HEPA) sub-group for Responsible Procurement, there should be some improvement in the tool in the next few years.

This plan is lead by:

  • Nigel Peake, Head of Strategic Sustainable Procurement

This plan is enabled by:

All procurement processes consider the sustainability of the supply chain and favour more sustainable solutions, and working with local businesses, specifically SMEs.  The University engages with local suppliers to reduce ‘purchasing miles’, especially for food.  The University engages with existing suppliers to understand their supply chains and to encourage development and setting Carbon Net Zero targets. Procurement processes for new contracts favour suppliers who are committed to sustainable development and have set a Carbon Net Zero target. All consumables come from sustainable sources.  



Targets and progress


  • Increasing value of impactable spend (as %) with SMEs to 54% in 2023/24

  • Increasing value of impactable spend (as %) with organisations with ST postcodes to 13% by 2023/24 and 20% by 2026/27 (this is a University strategic KPI)

  • Reducing the emissions associated with influenceable activity (including estates and facilities, information technology’ laboratories and professional services)


Progress status: AMBER

The value of impactable spend (as %) with SMEs was 56% in 2022/3, a 7% improvement over 2020/21

The value of impactable spend (as %) with organisations with ST postcodes was 27%  for 2022-23. The prior year was 15%.

Operational priorities for 2023/24

  • Procurement team working with the HEPA Responsible Procurement Group to identify potential solutions
  • Procurement team working with the 10 largest current suppliers (by emissions) to understand their supply chains and to attempt to get a better assessment of their actual emissions (as opposed to their HESCET estimated emissions).
      • We want to understand what data they are currently reporting on their own emissions.
      • Do they have a carbon reduction plan?
      • Have they signed up to the NetPositives tool which we use to monitor the ESG developments of suppliers?
  • For all strategic procurement exercises, looking at supply chains and getting more detailed information about emissions associated with the goods and services to be purchased and the organisations selling them.
  • Working to increase the number of local businesses (located within the ST postcodes) who we do business with (in line with the University’s strategic KPI
      • When they respond to formal tenders, understanding their supply chains in order to establish that they are genuinely local suppliers.
      • Using an initiative like the one promoted by Stoke City Council to increase the amount of business awarded to local suppliers.
  • Run a ‘single use plastic challenge’, asking people to bring forward items of single use plastic which their team or department uses and asking them if they could remove, recycle or replace this item with a better alternative. This would generate a certain amount of social media publicity, making people aware not only of the cost of these items in financial terms, but also in terms of the emissions in making it, bringing it to site and disposing of it
  • Working with Digital and Technical Services to identify less carbon intense IT-related goods and services.
in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2024

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021