UCC by its nature procures a large amount of goods and services, and the environmental and wider sustainability implications of such expenditure can be significant. Green Public Procurement is a key element of the All of Government plan for Climate Action. UCC has been incorporating sustainability into its procurement process for a number of years; catering, cleaning and printing contracts are just some examples of contracts where scores have been awarded for sustainability. This is a significant opportunity for UCC to not just reduce its carbon footprint, but, owing to the scale of the procurement, such a system (along with similar action by other public procurers) can affect real change in the marketplace resulting in greater availability and more competitive pricing of environmental preferable products.
Principles of Responsible Investment
Having previously divested its Trust of fossil fuels, in 2018 the University went a step further in signing the UN-supported Principles of Responsible Investment. Signatories to the PRI commit to only invest positively across a range of sustainability criteria and including ethical and governance considerations. The University will report annually to the PRI on its investment portfolio. Currently over 70% of the University’s Trust is invested in what would be considered “positive sustainability investments” for example ethical global equity fund, Irish energy efficiency fund, and renewable energy funds.
Sustainable Procurement at UCC
As part of UCC’s submission to the STARS programme, full inventories of all cleaning and janitorial supplies and all food and beverage purchases were undertaken. The inventories revealed that 95% of all expenditures on cleaning and janitorial products that are third party certified to meet recognized sustainability standards and that 40% of all food and beverage expenditure is on products that are third party verified under one or more recognized food and beverage sustainability standards or Local & Community-Based. These inventories can be accessed via UCC’s online STARS submission report.