Central Procurement Office

What is responsible procurement?

There is no single definition of responsible procurement; it is generally considered to be a procurement process that considers social, environmental and economic impacts to support sustainable development.

At The University of Manchester we believe responsible procurement is:

"How we ensure that the environmental, social and economic impacts of what we buy are considered within the procurement process. Where the goods or services we purchase have negative impacts we will reduce them and where we have positive impacts we will enhance them."

Kevin Casey, Head of Procurement, The University of Manchester.

Why responsible procurement ?

  • Social responsibility is one of the University's three core goals and within it is a commitment to responsible processes - how we embed social responsibility into our day-to-day activities.
  • The Procurement Maturity Assessment process has also provided a clear steer for UK universities that social responsibility is an increasingly important factor within procurement.
  • Recent legislation relating to the Modern Slavery Act provided an additional driver to both respond pro-actively to sustainable issues within the procurement process, particularly in relation to our supply chain.

What does it look like in practice?

Responsible procurement at The University of Manchester has been a collaboration between the procurement, social responsibility and environmental sustainability teams. All procurement teams are busy and have limited resource and capacity, we have discovered there are some significant benefits to investing time and energy in collaborative working. We also sought some external expertise to help us develop our approach.

We have used the Flexible Framework as a focus for our work as it supports an approach to embedding sustainability in process and practice and offered enough flexibility for us to use it in a University of Manchester context.

Successfully embedding environmental sustainability and social responsibility meant we had to systematically look at our procurement process and find the opportunities to embed the right considerations at the right time.

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