Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Case Study: Charles Stewart House

Procurement officer Neil Crowley and Karen Rowberry of ERI explain the benefits to Charles Stewart House of coordinating stationery orders.

Stationery buyers in Charles Stewart House (CSH) have been coordinating their stationery ordering activities for some time now. The Procurement Office initiated the process during a regular supplier review meeting with the University’s contracted supplier Office Depot. It was agreed that we’d work to reduce the number of deliveries to our premises and Office Depot would produce corresponding management information (MI) on a quarterly basis, to allow us to measure and monitor its effectiveness.

As a result the number of delivers to our building has dropped from 403 in 2013 to 318 in 2014 and CO2 emissions have been reduced from just over 1 tonne to 792kg, making a significant contribution to the University's carbon targets. There has also been a mutual financial benefit in terms of savings made on drivers, fuel and costs associated with processing orders.

This all began in November 2013 when I (Neil) sent an email out to all University staff who regularly purchase stationery, requesting them to liaise with other buyers in their relevant department, area or building however small or large. Deliveries of goods to the University have a major impact on our carbon footprint.

In CSH, our 10 stationery buyers met to agree a certain ordering day and time for their area/building. Each buyer continues to collate their requirements as and when suits, but the final order to Office Depot is placed at an agreed time and date.

There are times where such coordinated buying cannot be achieved due to urgent requests, because staff are on leave or there are other priorities but managing the bulk of deliveries in this way has been a major step forward.

Between April 2014 and March 2015 there were 6,432 deliveries to the University as a whole. This equates to the production of 9.72 tonnes of CO2 emissions or the equivalent of making over 1million cups of tea or a small car travelling 53,000km. If every building coordinated their deliveries we could really magnify the emissions reductions.

Regular updates on the number of deliveries and CO2 impact figures are posted on the Stationery Commodity information page on the Procurement Office’s website, so you can see how we’re getting on.

The next step is to encourage buyers to use WARP it, a free tool that enables you to find and give away free stationery, electronic equipment and other unused resources within the University, before they make a purchase. I would also like to see buyers consistently choose the environmentally-friendly options available on PECOS, such as recycled paper.