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Sustainable Purchasing Guidelines

A hand builds with wooden blocks that are stamped with the five principles of sustainable procurement.

TMU's  (google doc) Sustainable Purchasing Guidelines (external link)  are designed to reduce the environmental impact of purchasing decisions and ensure purchases are aligned with university-wide sustainability goals for responsible resource management and social sustainability.

These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Social Procurement Policy and if applicable the  (google doc) Sustainable Building Guidelines. (external link) 

Guiding Principles of Sustainable Purchasing

Step-by-step considerations to inform purchasing decisions

  1. Eliminate unnecessary purchases: Forgoing unnecessary purchases through reuse, refurbishment or repair to extend the lifespan of existing assets is the easiest way to reduce your environmental impact. 
  2. Prioritize circularity: A circular economy is one that reuses materials and minimizes waste. Seek out recycled content, recyclable packaging, durability and ability to be repaired, and take-back or reuse programs offered. 
  3. Assess total cost of ownership and/or life cycle cost: The upfront purchase price is not the only cost to consider. Ongoing costs for energy, waste, or consumables can sometimes cost more than the initial investment in the product itself. 
  4. Choose credibly eco-friendly-certified products: Look for reputable eco-logos or certifications for products that reduce environmental impact that are issued by third-party agencies. For a complete list of relevant eco-labels, refer to the Ecolabel Index (external link) .
  5. Explore sustainable and diverse suppliers: Consider supporting vendors and suppliers who are embedding environmental and social sustainability in their own practices and supply chains. Use tools, like a supplier code of conduct or questionnaire, to collect relevant answers. Refer to  (google doc) Sample List of Supplier Questions (external link)  in the appendix.

What’s in the Sustainable Purchasing Guide

The guideline contains category-specific considerations to help TMU community members understand the contents and life cycles of items. It offers:

  • tips on how to reduce consumption and reliance on products that require virgin, raw materials in manufacturing 
  • how to identify third-party certification labels to ensure products are eco-friendly, circular, fair-labour and socially sustainable
  • external resources for assessing the total life-cycle costs and environmental impact, return on investment and a checklist of questions to ask suppliers.

Areas included are:

  • Cleaning Products
  • Office Supplies: Paper and Paper Products
  • Information Technology (IT) Products and Services: Computers, Cellphones and Other Electronics
  • Food
  • Textiles, Garments and Linens
  • Swag
  • Furniture and Furnishings
  • Professional Services

Additional resources

Additional procurement and purchasing guidelines may be found in TMU’s information on Social Procurement and our (google doc)  Sustainable Building Guidelines (external link) .

Questions or concerns?

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please contact Sharmilla Raj, sustainability manager, at