SFU Making Great Strides in Sustainable Procurement to Reduce its Environmental Footprint

January 19, 2023

Sustainable procurement at Simon Fraser University is important to the institution's commitment to sustainability and responsible resource management. As one of Canada's leading universities, we recognize the significant impact our procurement practices can have on the environment, economy and social well-being of our communities.

“At SFU, we strive to integrate sustainable practices into all aspects of procurement, from sourcing materials and products to developing supplier relationships,” says Mary Aylesworth, director, financial operations. “By making conscious choices about the goods and services we purchase, we can reduce our ecological footprint, support local communities and promote ethical business practices.”

One of the key strategies that SFU has implemented to promote sustainable procurement is to incorporate ethical and sustainability standards in our Procurement Policy. Procurement is currently updating the policy to ensure that the university remains committed to purchasing products and services that are environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically viable. 


SFU has engaged EcoVadis, a global sustainability assessment service helping organizations evaluate the environmental, ethical and social performance of their suppliers. The program will help Procurement monitor and measure areas where our suppliers can improve their sustainability performance and work to implement changes. 


SFU also strongly supports supplier diversification by embedding equity, diversity and inclusion principles into our procurement activity. This also helps us reduce risk, increase our resilience to supply chain disruptions and promote a more sustainable marketplace.  

We consistently seek opportunities to purchase from Indigenous and minority-owned businesses, women-owned businesses and social enterprises that create social benefits in the community. For example, our Aboriginal Procurement Program aims to increase the number of Indigenous-owned businesses providing goods and services to the university. SFU is also committed to the welfare of workers employed by our suppliers; one approach has been to require suppliers to pay higher wages than the industry standard. SFU Procurement supports Buy Social CanadaCanadian Council for Aboriginal Procurement, and Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council.


In addition to our focus on sustainable procurement, we are also at the forefront of the social procurement movement, which aims to generate social value beyond the value of the goods and services we procure. To this end, we have implemented several initiatives, such as choosing suppliers based on their social performance and certifications. 

SFU is one of four post-secondary institutions furthering its sustainability goals through a new social procurement guide produced in collaboration with the British Columbia Collaborative for Social Innovation. The guide provides insights into how post-secondary institutions can incorporate social and environmental factors in their purchasing practices and aims to empower procurement professionals to achieve positive social change through their procurement activities. 

A global movement to reimagine the purpose and practices of public procurement is outlined in the United Nations' Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, recognizing the increasing inequalities between and within nations and their impacts on declining global and local ecosystems.

“At SFU, we take sustainable procurement to the next level by incorporating social procurement into our practices. By investing in socially responsible suppliers and creating a fair, inclusive and equitable procurement ecosystem at SFU, we strive to create positive social impact and support the well-being of our communities,” Aylesworth adds.

Sustainable and social procurement are important components of SFU’s  2022-2025 Strategic Sustainability and Climate Action Plan, and we continue to lead the way in environmental stewardship in the post-secondary sector.