Monday, October 3, 2016

Presenting Supplier Sustainability at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference

by Will Watson

Last year I participated in the Provost’s Sustainability Internship (PSI) program. My internship was with Procurement Services and built off of the previous intern’s project. Procurement Services purchases everything for our campus from paper to soap, to million dollar microscopes, to determining what large soda provider gets contracted with our campus.

The companies that provide our campus with goods and services are called suppliers. The intern before me worked to benchmark 10 of UCSC supplier’s operations pertaining to sustainability, such as “Does your company have an Environmental Protection Policy?” or “Does your company occupy any LEED certified buildings?” My project started as an expansion of the previous interns work, but evolved into something entirely new.

My mentor and I started communicating with a local consulting firm, EcoShift Development, about utilizing their cloud based supply chain platform, SupplyShift, for the extension of our project. UC San Diego used SupplyShift for a life science supply chain benchmarking project in 2014. Further, UCSC’s SupplyShift pilot looked at how a cloud based benchmarking platform could connect Procurement Departments, aggregate purchasing power, and influence our suppliers operations. UCSC modified UC San Diego’s scorecard, supplier survey, and aimed to benchmark suppliers from each category: Life Sciences, Information Technology Services, and Maintenance, Repairs, and Operations.

The project targeted 46 suppliers with a 63 percent response rate. This is just the tip of iceberg for UCSC’s supply chain though, which includes over 10,000 annual suppliers. The project results were presented in coordination with UCSD at the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, spreading awareness and the potential for benchmarking supply chains.


The project is continuing this year, with a myriad of options and areas to expand. If the waste, carbon footprint, social equity, or other problems associated with purchasing mass quantities of goods for UCSC concerns you or interests you, read project updates on Project Clearinghouse or contact the Sustainability Office at sustain.education[at]ucsc[dot]edu to get involved.

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