Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Top tips for buying key goods and services sustainably

Top tips for buying environmentally friendly products

First, assess what types of items and services your business buys and choose which groups to focus on to reduce their environmental and social impact. Key groups could include:

  • energy
  • IT equipment
  • vehicles
  • financial products
  • construction products and materials.

The following top tips could help you make your buying more sustainable.

Buy green energy

Reduce your energy use and use energy more efficiently. This is the best way to reduce your carbon emissions. See our guideline: Energy efficiency

You can consider installing a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system when renewing boilers.

You can use or generate energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power, instead of fossil fuels.

Generate your own renewable energy.

Buy sustainable IT equipment

Choose energy-efficient IT equipment such as desktop PCs, laptops, monitors, printers and photocopiers to reduce your energy use and save you money.

Consider energy use throughout the life cycle of electrical equipment. Use environmental label criteria like the Energy Star labelling scheme for energy efficiency or the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) government buying standards to help you set minimum environmental standards and buy the best performing equipment.

Reduce your consumption, eg buy less and make what you buy last longer by reusing or redistributing within your business. 

Deal with old equipment correctly. Your supplier is usually required to take back waste electrical and electronic equipment free of charge.

WEEE Regulations

Use technology that uses fewer resources, eg centrally managed computer systems such as thin client systems. These use less energy and should last twice as long as a normal desktop PC.

Buy green company vehicles

Buy a greener vehicle or use public transport if possible to reduce carbon emissions and help tackle climate change. Choose models and engines with low CO2 emissions and high fuel efficiency. Car travel creates more CO2 emissions than any other form of transport in the UK.

Vehicle emissions

Buy ethical financial products

Invest in green and ethically sound financial products. Socially responsible investment can have a positive impact on the environment and society and build your business reputation.

Ask your financial adviser about green or ethical investment options, eg investment funds, pension schemes and savings accounts.

Make investments that fit with your own sustainability aims, eg reducing carbon emissions, improving wages and working conditions through your supply chain.

Consider using ethical screening to:

  • avoid investing in companies that do not meet minimum environmental and ethical standards
  • identify companies with a commitment to responsible business practices, services and products.

UK Social Investment Forum: Ethical investments

Buy green construction products and materials

Use green construction materials and components to improve the environmental impact of your premises. You can use green specifications during design, construction or refurbishment.

Set minimum requirements for the environmental performance of your key building materials across their life cycle.

WRAP Northern Ireland: Supporting the construction sector

Resource Efficient Scotland: Sustainable Procurement

Buy products with ecolabels or environmental labels, for example Forest Stewardship Council certified timber products - see the page in this guideline:  Buying products and services with environmental labels.

Use reclaimed materials, for example bricks and tiles, solvent-free alternatives for glues and sealants, and locally produced materials, where possible.

Build or renovate to a sustainable building standard such as the Building and Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM).

BREEAM: Sustainable construction

In this Guideline

Benefits of buying sustainable goods and services

Avoiding unnecessary purchases

How to make your buying more sustainable

Buying products and services with environmental labels

Top tips for buying key goods and services sustainably

Selecting a sustainable supplier

Environmentally friendly products and services - further information

Things to consider when buying goods or services for your business

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