Procurement data

Objective O13

By 2020, evaluate life cycle cost and require sustainability disclosure from suppliers for all purchasing decisions over $100,000

Progress: Completed

Completed Icon

Description: In 2020 and in early 2021, Waterloo launched a disclosure regime for succesful respondents to all Request for Proposals to improve supply chain transparency and enable further action in understanding the sustainability of campus vendors. 

In addition, the University developed and published a new lifecylce costing guideline for energy consuming purchases, in order to more strategically integrate long-term cost management in purchasing decisions.

Actions and accomplishments

Historic actions and accomplishments


  • Developed draft disclosure checklist and piloted with 3 large campus vendors for ability to complete information about basic corporate sustainability practices
  • Sustainability Office drafted Life Cycle Costing approaches and guidelines for preliminary review


  • The Sustainability Office researched and developed best practice information on the integration of Lifecycle Costing considerations

Objective O14

By 2018, establish baseline data and targets to improve the percent of campus-wide purchases that meet third-party standards for paper, electronic equipment, and cleaning supplies

Progress: Mostly complete

A pie chart three-quarters full, illustrating that the objective is mostly complete

Description: Baselines are established for the three defined purchasing categories. Waterloo aims for 92% of all cleaning and janitorial supplies to bear an environmental certification by 2025.

No targets have been set yet for paper purchases or electronics.

There were significant performance swings in 2020 given changes to campus operations from the pandemic. It is expected that the paper and janitorial products decreases are temporary. The increase in sustainable electronics purchasing was largeley from better data collection.



All University of Waterloo, excluding Affiliated and Federated Institutions of Waterloo.


Limitations and Exclusions:

  • This does not include materials purchased and used by students, or through on-campus services such as Print and Retail Solutions.
  • Paper purchases through Staples were not included in 2014 due to lack of data availability.
  • Data on paper purchasing was not available in 2015.
  • Office departments that purchase paper, electronics, or cleaning products through a supplier other than centrally-managed processes were not included, as there is no tracking currently available.

Paper Product Criteria: STARS criteria for paper classifications were given to Waterloo’s main paper suppliers, who provided a breakdown of which overall paper purchases fit within each tier of recycled content and/or FSC certification. FSC Stands for the Forest Stewardship Council, which ensures a chain of custody on certified products that source paper from either recycled or responsibly managed forests. In 2020, Waterloo adjusted its subcategorization of "FSC-Label Only" paper to blend with the 70-89% Recycled" paper, to align with reporting changes in STARS 2.2 for the same, now labelled as "70-89%/FSC-Mixed". This had no change to the overall indicator outcome.

Cleaning and Janitorial Product Criteria: Cleaning and janitorial paper products included all chemical cleaners and solvents used across campus, as well as paper towels and toilet paper. Staff from Custodial Services and Housing cleaning services identified any certified products carrying the Greenguard, Green Seal, or UL ECOLOGO designations.

Electronic Products Criteria: Procurement and Contract Services contacted major electronics suppliers for the campus and requested a report on products that had received a minimum of EPEAT Bronze or higher certification. EPEAT stands for the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, and is a comprehensive framework for evaluating the lifecycle impacts of electronic equipment, developed and managed by the Green Electronics Council.

Enable JavaScript to view data visualisation.

An accessible version of this data can be downloaded here: Sustainable Purchasing Data 2023 (Excel)

Actions and accomplishments


  • Green IT committee launched a project in early 2023 to develop a guideline that would support integration of sustainability requirements into major IT purchasing decisions


  • Information Services and Technology (IST) and the Sustainability Office completed a joint project to better integrate sustainability considerations in IT procurement and operational decisions, leading to the standardization of EPEAT certification for the Desktop Rollover and mobile phone programs
  • Green IT group re-launched

Historic actions and accomplishments


  • Custodial Services and Campus housing developed a target for cleaning products and janitorial paper products
  • Custodial Services phased out some intensive cleaning chemicals for vinegar as a natural alternative
  • Initial discussions took place with IST on integration of a target for EPEAT certified electronic equipment


  • The Sustainability Office worked with Procurement and Contract Services to update the 2017 data for paper purchasing
  • The Sustainability Office worked with Procurement and Contract Services to develop a 2017 baseline for sustainably certified electronics purchases
  • The Sustainability Office worked with Housing and Residences and Custodial Services to develop a baseline for all sustainably certified janitorial cleaning and paper products

Related links

Explore more of Waterloo's progress: