Universiteit Leiden

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Procurement and investments

Leiden University purchases a broad range of goods and services every year, from scientific equipment to office supplies and from cleaning services to food products sold in the University's restaurants. All these items have an environmental impact, resulting from their production, the use of raw materials and transport.

Covenant on sustainable procurement

In 2008 all Dutch universities (research and applied sciences universities) agreed in a covenant with the then Ministry of the Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) that by 2012 at least half of their procurement would meet the sustainability criteria set by the Ministry. These criteria set out the minimum requirements and tendering conditions relating to the environment and international social provisions. All procurement must be completely sustainable by 2020 at the latest. Leiden University has more than achieved the concrete objectives for 2012 and continues to work in line with the principles of the covenant. 

Fair trade and biological

The purchasing of sustainable products is mainly visible for students and staff in the University's restaurants. The product range is at least partly biologically produced and/or fair trade. All the dairy products, for example, are 100 per cent biological and all the coffee is 100 per cent fair trade (Max Havelaar/Utz).  In 2016, a new product line – Pure – was introduced to encourage staff and students to choose sustainable, healthy and/or vegetarian products.

Leiden University also pays close attention to delivery arrangements. The fewer transport movements, the more sustainable the logistics process. Removal vehicles are also subject to strict requirements in terms of their exhaust gases. All computer hardware purchases through European tenders also meets the latest standards of energy use.

Investing sustainably

The investments made by the University support funds, such as Praesidium Libertatis, all use socially responsible sustainable investment funds and instruments (trackers). They take account of internationally recognised MVO norms and avoid investing in controversial funds. Investments in company bonds only takes place if the relevant company meets the criteria of the UN Global Compact.


Leiden University is intending to make the purchasing of products and services even more sustainable. In 2018 the University will apply sustainability criteria to all purchasing sectors where this is possible. Where the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment does not yet have any sustainability criteria available, Leiden University will set the criteria itself, working together with the Universities of the Netherlands association.

From 2016 Leiden University will introduce criteria for such areas of procurement as business travel and waste disposal. The University is  also working towards increasing the share of biological, fair trade, vegetarian and regional products in its restaurants. Sustainable and regionally produced foodstuffs promote the local economy and reduce CO2 emissions arising from production and transport.

Current status

In 2016 , University restaurants and  cafés introduced a new product line – Pure – aiming to encourage staff and students to choose sustainable, healthy and/or vegetarian products. A number of sustainability criteria have been included in the tenders for the processing of waste and paper.  

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