Aston University has a responsibility to protect the environment and promote sustainability for our three beneficiaries: students, external organisations, and the wider region and society. Sustainable procurement is central to our approach, which means we aim to minimise any negative impacts associated with these goods and services, as well as taking opportunities to enhance our contribution to society and the economy. Aston University's Sustainability Procurement Policy can be found here.

Further information on our sustainable and ethical procurement practices can be found on our Environment and Sustainability Web Site for further information.

Flexible Framework

The Flexible Framework is a self-assessment mechanism that allows organisations to measure and monitor their progress in relation to sustainable procurement over time.  Aston uses The Flexible Framework as a tool to embed sustainability into its procurement processes and to work toward reducing the environmental impact associated with its supply chains. Aston University can demonstrate achievement at Level 4.

This activity is scrutinised internally by members of procurement and the sustainability team. 

What can suppliers do?

Suppliers should think about the social, economic, and environmental impacts of your product or service and how you can work to reduce this impact.

We have suppliers providing goods and services to the University and they can help us achieve our Sustainable Procurement ambitions by:

  • Demonstrating how they are working to reduce their own negative impacts
  • Demonstrating how they are working to increase their positive impact
  • Working with us to demonstrate value for money helps us to do more

To ensure Sustainable Procurement has the impact we want to see it is important that as much of our spending power as possible reflect our values

The University has an ISO 14001 environmental management system and a Sustainability Strategy. It is critical that suppliers can support our objectives as well as look at their own impacts on the environment as well as have high ethical values. Furthermore, suppliers need to look at their own supply chain.  

Supporting suppliers - NETpositive

The NETpositive Supplier Engagement Tool is a free online platform that enables suppliers to develop a bespoke Sustainability Action Plan in line with Aston's environmental, sustainability, and institutional objectives. The Tool is used in collaboration with other Universities and Higher Education organisations.

The Tool allows Aston to support its Suppliers to go beyond a commitment to sustainability and help plan Supplier engagement activities on sustainability, gather evidence of good practice, and use the action plan developed to provide a clear and measurable focus for contract management discussions.

If you are a Supplier to the University, we encourage you to register on the Net Positive Futures Supplier Engagement Tool and upload key documentation.

Please visit here to find out more information about Netpositives in Higher Education and how it links with The Flexible Framework.

What can staff do?

Ask yourself these key questions before you purchase anything:

  1. Do you really need it?
  2. Do we already have it elsewhere in the University?
  3. How much do you need?
  4. Is there a more energy-efficient option?
  5. Can packaging be minimised, recycled, or taken back?
  6. Can it be bought second-hand?

Top Tips in the office!

  • Don’t order more than you need
  • If it’s a single-use item, look for an
  • Set up a stationary re-use point
  • Set up a scrap paper collection point
  • Select items with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation
  • Only buy paper with recycled content
  • Reuse items such as marketing banners – if only the inner banner needs replacing.
  • Select suppliers with a certified environmental management system e.g., ISO14001
  • Consolidate your orders so you have fewer deliveries
  • Make sure your multi-functional printers are set to duplex. 

Whole Life Cost

It’s important to consider the maintenance costs associated with any products you buy. A product may seem cheap at first, but don’t forget to consider the following:

  • Will it require regular maintenance?
  • Will it consume lots of energy during its life?
  • What consumables will it need and how long will these be available?
  • Does it have a short life span, will it need replacing regularly?
  • Is it expensive to dispose of?