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Academic Handbook Operations

Ethical Sourcing Policy


Purpose and Scope

  1. Northeastern University London (the University) has implemented this Policy in support of its Sustainability Strategy and expects its employees to take reasonable efforts to comply with this Policy.
  2. This Ethical Sourcing Policy applies to all University staff.


  1. Department heads are responsible for the implementation of this Policy within their respective departments.

University Statement on Ethical Sourcing

  1. The University acknowledges that its purchasing decisions carry economic, social and environmental implications and takes this as an opportunity to procure goods and services responsibly and in a sustainable manner. This Policy reflects the commitments set out in the University’s Sustainability Strategy, and aims to integrate environmental and socio-economic aspects at all stages of purchasing.
  2. The University accepts it has an impact on sustainability and recognises it has a responsibility to strive to reduce its impact. Reflecting the commitments set out in the University’s Sustainability Strategy, the University endeavours to embed sustainable and ethical purchasing by:
    1. Understanding its supply chains and their compliance with national and international standards on environmental and human rights matters.
    2. Understanding its supply chain’s consideration and commitments of the social and environmental impacts of their activities.
    3. Taking into account the environmental and social impacts during the assessment of the purchased goods or services.
    4. Ensuring all relevant procurement contracts and tenders contain sustainability specifications as appropriate to the product or service being procured.
    5. Managing its supply chain in a way that supports the University in achieving its carbon reduction targets, while at the same time meeting the needs of the University.

General Principles

  1. The University will endeavour to purchase goods and services from supply sources which maintain ethical and sustainable standards through their supply chains.
  2. Procurement decisions will be based on an appropriate balance between financial, social and sustainable factors.
  3. Within competitive processes and procedures, suppliers and contractors are required to maintain the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in their business dealings and practices, adhere to the laws of the countries where they operate and manage their own procurement processes and procedures such that their suppliers and subcontractors meet the same standards.
  4. Provide appropriate support, guidance and training to staff engaged in procurement processes, and in particular the process of tender evaluation, supplier relationship, and contract management processes.

Guidelines for Ethical Sourcing Considerations

General Considerations Mandatory Recommendation
Review the need to buy the product. X  
Avoid purchasing products that can cause significant damage to the environment (e.g., by buying products that are not bio-degradable or contain CFCs).   X
Consider the efficiency and resource consumption of the product or/and services which will add to the operating cost. X  
Consider if the product can be recycled at the end of its life. X  
Consider the percentage of recycled materials used in the product. X  
Avoid over packaged products. If packaging cannot be avoided then look for products with packaging made from recycled materials, or whose packaging can be reused or recycled.   X
Where items are of similar cost, give preference to those that are manufactured with a higher recycled content. X  
Purchase products or services that require minimum transportation, ongoing maintenance and consumables. X  
Supplier/subcontractor support International Labour Standards and codes of conduct.   X
The contractors/subcontractors or major suppliers must have an Environmental Policy.   X
The contractors/subcontractors or major suppliers should consider sustainable travel options for daily travel to and from the University campuses.   X
Waste Reduction Mandatory Recommendation
All manufacturers, suppliers and subcontractors must apply the waste hierarchy (reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, dispose) to packaging. X  
Delivery and packaging of goods in bulk rather than by single unit.   X
Ask the deliveries to be made outside of peak traffic times.   X
Delivery of goods in reusable containers.   X
Clothing Mandatory Recommendation
Ensuring clothing suppliers comply with International Labour Standards (ILS).   X
Is the clothing made of Fair Trade and organic cotton where applicable?   X
Beverages and Food Mandatory Recommendation
Beverages must be Fairtrade certified.   X
Coffee and tea should be either Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certificated.   X
Purchase food criteria should consider the ISO20400 Sustainable Procurement Standard.   X
Cleaning Mandatory Recommendation
Use and supply of environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals with clearly labelled product information.   X
Any externally sourced /contracted staff must be trained on chemical handling and COSHH. X  
Electronics Mandatory Recommendation
All white goods to be a minimum of A+ energy rated.   X
Laptops and PCS (Windows) equipment to be a minimum of TCO Gen9 compliant. X  
Stationery and Marketing Collateral Mandatory Recommendation
Buy paper utilising recycled source material, using at least 80% Post-Consumer Waste (PCW).   X
Tissue paper (for example kitchen and toilet tissue and hand towels) must have 100% recycled content.   X
All promotional gifts should be from sustainable sources taking into consideration issues such as use of recycled materials and locally produced products.   X

Reporting, Monitoring and Reviewing

  1. The Sustainability Committee is responsible for undertaking periodic reviews of the effectiveness of this policy on behalf of the University and to advise the University’s Executive Committee accordingly.
  2. This Policy will be reviewed by the University’s Sustainability Committee on an annual basis.

Version History

Title: Ethical Sourcing Policy

Approved by: Executive Committee

Location: Academic Handbook/ Policies and Procedures/ General/ Operations

Version Number Date Approved Date Published  Owner  Proposed Next Review Date
23.1.0 August 2023 August 2023 Director or Resourcing and Operations May 2025
Referenced documents None
External Reference Point(s) None