Social Responsibility and Sustainability


Find out more about what we are doing to ensure fair trade and protection of human rights at the University.

Our commitments and policies

The University’s Procurement Strategy 2016-21 makes commitments to socially responsible and sustainable procurement. Our aim is to embed relevant social responsibility and sustainability requirements into the procurement process – from tenders to contract management.

Our purchasing practices are also governed by our Fair Trade Policy, Conflict Minerals Policy, Good Food Policy, Modern Slavery Statements and Community Benefits approach. We are affiliated to Electronics Watch, and a member of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, Edinburgh Fair Trade City Group, and Scotland’s International Development Alliance.

Our approach

In order to identify risks and opportunities related to goods and services we procure, we have used the Scottish Government Sustainable Procurement Prioritisation Tool and Sustainability Test Tool. The outcomes of these assessments feed into category action plans.

We ask suppliers to adopt the APUC Code of Conduct. We use the APUC Sustain tool to monitor key suppliers’ progress, and we directly engage with suppliers through one to one dialogue and through supplier events .

We collaborate on research to inform University practice, such as the EU-funded Make ICT Fair project.

We are committed to raising awareness of human rights and environmental issues linked to supply chains among students, staff and the general public.

Make ICT Fair project

Make ICT fair logo
The University collaborated with ten partners across Europe on an EU-funded project entitled ‘Make ICT Fair – Reforming Manufacture and Minerals Supply Chains through Policy, Finance and Public Procurement’ from November 2017 to January 2021.

Fair and sustainable procurement

Map of mine in Africa to factory/processing in Asia to final electronics worldwide
The University has made various commitments to working towards socially responsible and sustainable procurement and supply chains.

Modern slavery

Graphic: chains connected to price tags with barcodes
In 2016, the UK Modern Slavery Act (2015) came into force. It requires commercial organisations with a turnover of over £36 million to publish a statement detailing what actions they are taking to combat any risks of modern slavery in their own operations and in their supply chains.

Conflict minerals

 What are Conflict Minerals? Smart phone with minerals Gold, Tin, Tantalum and Tungsten shown on the screen.
The University of Edinburgh has become the first higher education institution in the UK adopt a formal conflict minerals policy.

Fair trade

fair trade
We have participated in the Fairtrade University scheme since 2004, making commitments to fair trade procurement, awareness-raising and research. The University is now working towards its next award.

Palm Oil

Palm oil fresh fruit bunches
The University of Edinburgh is working to ensure it buys products that contain certified sustainable palm oil.

Related initiatives

Sustainable IT: Personal Computing Devices

Established in January 2020, this policy is focused on reducing the number of unnecessary personal computing devices. This will contribute positively to the University’s Zero by 2040 carbon ambition and reduce damage to the environment caused by the mining, manufacturing, transport and energy cost of additional devices; and minimise the disposal impact of old devices that cannot be recycled.

Sustainable IT: Personal Computing Devices SharePoint