Sustainable UCL


Changes to UCL contracts enable responsible procurement

16 February 2021

Discover how UCL Procurement is championing sustainability and how you can shape a sustainable UCL by using our new contracts and suppliers.

Two people working at desks in UCL Student Centre

60% of UCL’s carbon impact derives from the products we buy, ranging from IT and lab equipment, to furniture and office supplies.

Therefore UCL can have a hugely positive impact on the environment and society by ensuring that we purchase responsibly. In light of UCL’s new Sustainability Strategy, UCL procurement have retendered and changed many of UCL’s contracts to do just that - make them better for people and the planet. This has also led to substantial financial savings and improved services.

View the changes made below, to learn about the sustainability gains made, and how you can join us in making UCL’s purchases more sustainable.

Stationary and Office Supplies

UCL has changed the way in which the university purchases office supplies. UCL procurement have reduced the number of items on the eMarketplace to make it easier for users to select stationary items. One single supplier, ‘Banner’, will be used as a provider of stationary on the eMarketplace, which has like for like alternatives that are more sustainable. Use the eMarketplace when purchasing your departmental items to ensure responsible procurement..

Prior to COVID-19, we had up to 100 deliveries to campus per week for stationary. Our new delivery contract with ‘Banner’ will combine orders from several departments to reduce traffic, noise, congestion and pollution on campus and throughout London. This will also reduce packaging. Deliveries will arrive at three locations on campus, and will then be transported sustainably to your department or office.

Banner also trains all of their drivers in advanced road safety and ensures that their vans have safety features and produce low emissions.

We estimate that the following savings will be made annually:

  • Number of deliveries reduced from 4,000 to 150~
  • Reducing carbon emissions by 6,500~ kg; this is as much CO2 as would be needed to charge a smartphone more than 800,000 times
  • 5,800kg less of packaging
    IT Hardware

    UCL has chosen 2 suppliers, Insight and Academia, for IT hardware to simplify the process of purchasing laptops and keyboards. All of the products sold by the chosen suppliers are EPEAT certified to ensure they are sustainable.

    Insight have also replaced 99% of the single-use plastics in their warehouse with paper packaging, therefore supporting UCL to be a single-use plastic free campus by 2024.

    As part of the contract, Insight will develop a process for collecting UCL equipment that are broken or no longer wanted. They will refurbish computers and laptops where possible, and sell them at a discount, returning 50% of the profit to UCL.

    The chosen suppliers have also demonstrated effective systems to monitor their global supply chains to avoid exploitation and modern slavery.

    Find out more here.

    IT Software

    ISD and procurement have reviewed UCL’s software license agreements and have consolidated individual licenses, resulting in savings and easier license management.

    This includes software to support remote working and collaboration; Zoom is now available until July 2021 for all staff and students via the UCL Zoom webpages. Additionally, UCL has agreed a limited number of licenses for Docusign, an electronic signature and agreement solution.

    Sustainability Benefits:

    • Enhanced Zoom features to conduct virtual meeting and events;
    • Ability to sign documents virtually, reducing paper usage and time.

    For information on hosting live events visit the planning a virtual event staff task

    Print Services

    UCL has renewed the framework for printing services and chosen suppliers that meet our environmental and social values requirements, meaning departments can select a sustainable printing option whatever the job.

    Sustainability Benefits

    • Staff/departments can see the carbon footprint of printing jobs /orders;
    • Staff/departments can buy plastic-free display materials;
    • Low pollution printing, from using ink that do not contain harmful chemicals (called Volatile Organic Compounds - VOCs), which are bad for people and planet

    Find out more here.

    Creative Services

    UCL requires specialist creative services for a range of activities. Procurement have worked with UCL’s Communications and Marketing team (CAM) to consolidate a list of 30 suppliers. All suppliers will be required to create a sustainability plan.

    Find more information here.  


    There are further opportunities in 2021 for embedding sustainability into procurement projects. This includes a review of furniture contracts to look at encouraging more reuse and repair, and a review of travel provider contracts to include carbon offsetting and promoting sustainable travel choices. For more information, visit this page.