The University of Manchester has held its first ever awards ceremony to recognise suppliers taking action to be more sustainable - highlighting two Manchester SMEs for ‘outstanding demonstration’.
With an annual spend of £465 million on goods and services, the University of Manchester works with thousands of suppliers, ranging from local SMEs to multi-national corporations.
As part of an initiative to support suppliers which want to work in more sustainable ways, the university has created an online toolkit to help companies explore their social and environmental impacts and generate a customised action plan to solve problems or embed new activity.
The free tool has now been used by 1,400 companies, eight of which were shortlisted in the university’s first Responsible Suppliers Awards.
Manchester-based Thomas Kneale and Co won the award for Outstanding Demonstration of Impact by a Local SME.
The company supplies textiles, such as bedding and shower curtains, to the university’s halls of residence and has been working to ensure that all of its cotton comes from sustainable sources.
The company also audits the factories where its products are made in order to ensure good labour practices, including shift lengths, breaks and payment rates.
Another Manchester SME, Chariot Office Supplies, was highly commended. The company used the university’s toolkit to re-think its operations, moving from two sites to one - resulting in reduced carbon emissions and time spent travelling between two locations.
The single site was upgraded, a process which included LED lighting and insulation to improve environmental performance.
Green agenda benefits
Cllr Alex Ganotis, leader of Stockport Council and Greater Manchester lead for environmental issues, spoke at the awards ceremony.
“The Supplier Awards provides businesses with a showcase they can use publicly. They can use this to generate business benefit because it shows to the outside world and potential customers that they are ethical, they believe in these principles and that their customers can benefit from their green agenda.”