Sustainable procurement is a holistic concept that takes into consideration the social, economic, and environmental impacts of purchasing and sourcing decisions. In this way, sustainable procurement has a triple botton line of people, profit, and planet. The results of a Trends Analysis Report of supply chain greenhouse gas inventories that estimates emissions associated with procuring goods and services from public agencies and universities indicate that nearly 40% of higher education institutions' total emissions result from their supply chain. These emissions arise at every stage along the supply chain, including extraction of raw materials, production, manufacturing, packaging, transportation and distribution. Further emissions result throughout the life cycle of a product or service, from its use, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal.
In September of 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), known as the 2030 Agenda, made up of 169 targets for achievement covering social and economic global development issues. Target 12.7 of SDG 12, Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, states: “Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.” According to the UN Global Marketplace, "Procurement is called sustainable when it integrates requirements, specifications and criteria that are compatible and in favour of the protection of the environment, of social progress and in support of economic development, namely by seeking resource efficiency, improving the quality of products and services and ultimately optimizing costs.”
The UC Sustainable Practices Policy and Sustainable Procurement Guidelines establish sustainable procurement policies and procedures that UC Santa Barbara is committed to meeting or exceeding through its own Sustainable Procurement and Use Practices. According to Executive Order 13693, "environmentally preferable," refers to products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose, taking into consideration the entire product life cycle. Recognizing the substantial impact that procurement decisions have on the environment, society, and the economy, and in alignment with the aforementioned policies and Sustainable Development Goals, UCSB will maximize its procurement of sustainable products and services, including those that are environmentally preferable and that come from socially responsible sources.