Sustainable procurement

Materialshop Irchel

Purchases take place in almost every organizational unit at UZH – from office supplies to large research equipment. This website helps you to make your contribution to sustainable procurement at UZH.

Why sustainable procurement?

It is the aim to strengthen sustainability in UZH's procurement. The impetus for this is provided by two developments:

  • The Federal Law on Public Procurement (Bundesgesetz über das öffentliche Beschaffungswesen, BöB) and the Intercantonal Agreement on Public Procurement (Interkantonale Vereinbarung über das öffentliche Beschaffungswesen, IVöB) have been revised. While the BöB entered into force on January 1, 2021, the cantons must individually decide to join the revised IVöB in a legislative procedure. The accession law to the revised IVöB 2019 of the Canton of Zurich is currently still being drafted. It will also apply to UZH procurements. Through these revisions, a paradigm shift is taking place, because the law will no longer  focus only the most cost-effective, but also the economically, ecologically and socially sustainable use of public funds.

       Intercantonal Agreement on Public Procurement (IVöB)

  • In its Implementation Strategy 2030 for the Sustainability Policy, UZH set itself the goal of climate neutrality and also formulated a specific goal on procurement. Therefore, we now need to reduce UZH's greenhouse gas emissions in all areas – including in the supply chains of procured goods and services.

Taking sustainability aspects into account can lead in some cases to higher short-term procurement costs. In other cases – especially by reducing the frequency of new purchases – costs can be reduced. Even when budgets are tight, the goals of sustainable development, in particular the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, need to be taken into account. 

Step 1: Important questions before buying something new

You can achieve the greatest reduction of your environmental impact by buying less. Before buying something new, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the new purchase of the desired product avoidable? 
  • Can I obtain or use the product through one of our platforms – Office Supplies Exchange, Equipment Exchange, Platform Shared Equipment? 
  • Can I use the existing product a little longer? 

You can also post products that are no longer needed on the Office Supplies Exchange and Equipment Exchange or make your equipment available to other units via the Platform Shared Equipment, for example.

Office Supplies Exchange
Equipment Exchange
Platform Shared Equipment

Step 2: Considering sustainability when buying something new

Guidance to buy sustainably via P4U

Two symbols support you in sustainable purchasing on the UZH purchasing platform P4U.

  • Products classified by the supplier as sustainable are marked with the following symbol.

      Nachhaltiges Produkt

  • At the catalog level, you can see how the suppliers are rated in terms of sustainability. Depending on the rating, the leave appears green, yellow or red. By clicking on the symbol, you can obtain detailed information on the rating, for example to what extent the supplier considers sustainability in its supply chain.

Examples for sustainability criteria

Consider both environmental and social aspects when selecting a product or service provider. For example, the following criteria should be considered throughout the life cycle of a product (for detailed criteria by product group see next section):

  • Manufacturing: e.g. materials used, proportion of recycled materials, avoidance of conflict minerals, fulfilment of requirements of sustainability labels, compliance with the core labor standards of the International Labor Organization and other international labor standards, equal treatment of women and men in terms of equal pay.
  • Use: energy efficiency, repairability, long-term availability of spare parts.
  • Disposal: Recyclability

Further information on specific types of goods and services


Office Material

Print shops


IT and devices


"Kompass Nachhaltigkeit öffentliche Beschaffung" – Office furniture (in German)

Cleaning and hygiene products