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Key Objective: 5.1 Sustainable Procurement Reports

The iCAP 2020, objective 5.1 is: “Create sustainable procurement reporting guidelines and increase compliance to 100% of business managers through training and outreach by FY24.” The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is Purchasing. Progress is tracked in the iCAP Portal project page for the Sustainable Procurement Reports.

Associated Metric

No metric specified for this objective



“Procurement” refers to locating and obtaining goods and services from an outside vendor — everything from food products, to printer paper, to public computers in university labs. Procurement is one of the earliest life cycle stages over which we have direct control, and the sources we select for campus purchasing are some of our most powerful sustainability “votes.”

People will usually opt for sustainable sourcing when given the opportunity. However, a core procurement issue at a university of this size is the lack of coordinated communication within the network of professionals making buying decisions. Drafting an annual report to be completed by business managers ensures that information about sustainable procurement is compiled, disseminated, and distributed to those who have the power to cast the most environmentally conscious vote.

Sustainable procurement reporting program

Working closely with the Business Managers Group, we aim to implement a sustainable procurement reporting program by FY23. By FY24, we plan for all campus business managers to participate. Annual reports will include metrics such as the percentage of environmentally preferred purchases of products like office paper, cleaning products, computers, electronics, and package delivery services; the percentage of purchases made through iBuy;[1] and the number of vendor contracts with sustainability requirements.


Because all purchasing through iBuy occurs online, increasing the percentage of purchases made through this marketplace will elevate our campus's overall sustainability by decreasing the waste stream typically generated from purchasing.

Purchase Orders (PO) through Banner have historically been printed and mailed to vendors, which generates large quantities of waste from paper, toner, postage, and delivery. From FY17 to FY19, the average annual POs in Banner exceeded 7,500; a conservative estimate of 10 pages per PO calculates over 75,000 sheets of paper used per year. Using iBuy can conserve waste, cut costs, and minimize emissions.

Recently, the Purchasing Office has made focused efforts to shift purchases from Banner to iBuy, with over 2,700 POs completed in iBuy from FY17 to FY19. Functional updates will enable a higher volume of POs to be routed through iBuy in the future. These include:

  • The addition of Contracts Plus. Historically, Banner was the only channel for submitting purchase orders tied to a solicitation or contract. Adding Contracts Plus enables these purchases to be made through iBuy, eventually replacing the Illinois Contract System (iCS) and consolidating contracted and solicited orders.


  • The ability to process Standing Purchase Orders. Standing POs allow units to order qualifying items on an as-needed basis (e.g., frequently replenished lab supplies). Although iBuy is not yet capable of processing Standing POs, this feature is expected by FY21. In FY19, more than 3,000 Standing POs were processed in Banner. While not all of these will immediately transition to iBuy, a substantial reduction is expected by FY21.


  • The America To Go (ATG) punch out catalog. Punch out catalogs allow buyers to directly access supplier catalogs from within the purchasing platform. Currently, the university spends approximately $10M per year on restaurant and catering orders from Banner, iBuy, Purchasing Cards (PCards), and Travel Cards (TCards). The majority of these purchases are from Banner and TCards. By streamlining access to ATG (which provides a curated network of restaurant and catering vendors), we can reduce the volume of orders processed through Banner and digitize our ordering practices.


Campus contracts

Every campus department is involved in procurement; numerous professional positions require thoughtful vendor interactions to negotiate everything from day-to-day office supply purchases to expensive orders including electronics and catering. Though each department has different requirements, all can incorporate sustainability into their purchasing choices. In addition to a sustainable procurement reporting program, we will advocate to integrate sustainability literacy components into relevant contracts and job descriptions. 

The purpose of the reporting program outlined in this objective is to integrate green purchasing into all facets of campus. The reporting itself is a necessary step; the ultimate goal is to foster a culture of environmentally conscious decision-makers. Only through coordinated communication and diligent reporting can we hope to tackle this problem as a campus.


Associated Project


Project History