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Useful Tips

Did you know that Procurement Services works continuously with its internal stakeholders to facilitate the selection of goods and services which are more environmentally friendly, and/or have positive social impacts? 

Here is a quick look at some of the things we take care of:

♦ We highlight McGill University’s Supplier Code of Conduct when selecting and contracting suppliers.

♦ We develop Minimum Standard Requirements for certain products (related to energy efficiency, recycled content, or other similar specifications).

♦ We use contract clauses which oblige suppliers to offer more sustainable options to our internal customers.

♦ We make sure our sustainability criteria are also reflected in our group-buy initiatives with other public institutions (Universities, Colleges and Hospitals).

♦ We develop and implement guidelines and procedures to facilitate the lifecycle management of assets at McGill.

♦ We issue directives, as needed, to limit the purchasing from unlawful suppliers.

♦ We work closely with Hazardous Waste Management to select local and certified downstream processors (refurbishers and recyclers) for our used and end-of-life assets.

Are you about to purchase a product or service for your department/unit?
Here are a few tips for incorporating sustainability in your decision making process:


            modern kitchen

            Please refer to the 4-R hierarchy (Rethink-Reduce-Reuse-Recycle) before purchasing appliances. Determine if you can share one with someone or perhaps find a recently used one.
            If you do need to buy energy consuming appliances, you should:

            1. Choose Energy Star certified products (if such options exist)
            2. Compare your model options by looking at the energy consumption (kWh/year/square foot of storage space for freezers and refrigerators) over 10 years, in addition to comparing the acquisition cost.

            Car Rentals and Travel


            For any University-related travels, please refer to our Travel Services website.

            When you book your air-travel through Vision link, you will be informed of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each of your flight options.

            The University receives monthly GHG reports from Vision-travel, which allows us to correctly quantify our emissions from air-travel, and will facilitate offsetting in the future.

            Cleaning Products

            gloved hands cleaning the floor

            McGill University’s custodial staff and contracted cleaning services only use Ecologo certified products.

            If you need to buy cleaning products and/or soaps, please make sure these products are Ecologo or Greenguard certified, and verify that they do not contain the following elements:

            • Microbeads
            • Triclosan, Triclocarban, Hexachlorophene, Fluorosalan, Methylbenzethonium chloride or other similar antibacterial agents

            Coffee and Refreshments


            McGill University is a Fair Trade campus. Please consider the following options to guide your decisions:

            • Fair trade coffee, tea, sugar, cocoa
            • Local and organic drinks, if possible
            • Organic milk products, if possible
            • Minimize packaging, and request compostable (first) or recyclable (second) containers, cups etc.
            • No straws, and no bottled water (get office jugs)
            • Stir sticks should be made of wood or straight pasta


            fancy table setting for an event

            McGill University has a Guide  for Sustainable Events, you can find it here.

            Food or Catering

            catered food on a plate

            Sustainability criteria for this kind of service should include:

            • Choosing local, seasonal products, and organic if possible
            • Vegetarian and/or vegan options
            • Fair trade ingredients (coffee/chocolate/cocoa/sugar)
            • No straws and no bottled water (use jugs)
            • Minimized packaging
            • Avoid disposable items, or buy compostable items
            • Variety of dishes to accommodate cultural/religious considerations


            living room set

            McGill University aims to apply LEED v4 criteria to its furniture purchases. This means that the materials used in the furniture we purchase respect specific health, air quality, and durability criteria.  Any furniture purchases must meet the University’s design standards.

            IT Equipment

            laptop and desktop side by side

            McGill University has developed Minimum Standard Requirements, including sustainability criteria, for certain categories of IT products. These criteria are applied to all centrally purchased IT equipment. You can find these Minimum Standard Requirements on the McGill IT Knowledge Base.

            Lab Supplies

            man at a laboratory desk

            Procurement Services has met with its main suppliers of lab products to communicate our community’s interest in more sustainable options. Supplier catalogues will often highlight their most sustainable options. Before purchasing products in this category, remember to apply McGill’s 4-R hierarchy (Rethink-Reduce-Reuse-Recycle), and be mindful of single-use plastics. You can always count on our support if you can’t find the sustainable options you are looking for.

            Office Supplies

            post it notes, pens and paperclips

            Before purchasing products in this category, remember to apply McGill’s 4-R hierarchy (Rethink-Reduce-Reuse-Recycle), and be mindful of single-use plastics.  Supplier(s) offering these kinds of product can be found on McGill Market Place (MMP). As part of their contract with McGill, these suppliers must highlight the more sustainable options in their catalogue.

            You can also buy some office supplies from the McGill Bookstore, where the team is continuously improving and diversifying its offer of sustainable products.



            The paper used in U-Print machines is purchased through an inter-institutional contract, which mandates the use of 100% post-consumer recycled content. This is the paper made available through MMP.

            If you intend to buy other paper products, please make sure they have a high post-consumer recycled content, are recyclable, and come from sustainably managed forests.

            Printed Materials

            loose printed manuscript

            McGill strongly recommends to have printed materials (flyers, leaflets, bulk letters, and so on) printed via McGill’s Printing Services. This team will help you identify sustainable paper options, in compliance with the University’s Paper Use policy. They also help the University keep track of the quantities of printed materials (for reporting under regulatory mandate by the provincial government). 

            Also, make sure you show, on your printed material, what percentage of post-consumer recycled paper was used. Communicating this information on our documents is also mandated by the University’s Paper use policy.

            Promotional Items and Gifts

            mcgill le james tshirt

            Please refer to McGill’s 4-R Hierarchy (Rethink-Reduce-Reuse-Recycle), and be mindful of single-use plastics before purchasing promotional items and corporate gifts.

            Here are a few additional hints:

            • Can you “dematerialize” the gift? If you are intending to give presents to people from the Montreal area, why not offer tickets to events held at the Faculty of Music, or at our Molson Stadium?
            • If you intend to purchase branded items (with the McGill logo on them), please work with the McGill Bookstore, because this team has developed a unique expertise in finding sustainable and superior quality products, made locally or abroad, and from more ethical suppliers, and even social economy (integration) enterprises.
            • If you intend to offer edible gifts, please remember that McGill is a Fair Trade campus, and any coffee, tea or chocolate should be sourced from Fair Trade participating suppliers.
            • Other edible options should be local specialties (wine/honey/jams/liquors/maple syrup, and so on).
            • Another option of gifts for locals can include locally grown flowers, in season.  


            black cars lined up

            McGill has adopted Minimum Standard Requirements for Vehicles, in order to reduce the environmental impact of our vehicle fleet.  To find out more, please go to the Vehicle Asset Management Procedure.  

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