2.3.1 Purchase routines

Purchase routines represent one of your most important areas of focus. It’s through your purchase routines that you choose the suppliers you will collaborate with in all areas of the events. Here, you choose your sources of energy, means of transportation, what type of waste you will produce, and therefore also the means of waste disposal that will be required. Good purchase routines saves you money, are good for the environment and ethically sound! When you purchase goods or services, you influence future resource management, energy consumption, chemical spills, transportation, not to mention waste production.

Start by mapping the current situation

  • What routines and procedures exist for purchasing?
  • Do you have a purchasing manager, or are purchasing responsibilities divided between several individuals? On what grounds do you choose suppliers?
  • Are there standardised templates for inquiries and contracts?
  • Do you have environmental requirements, and if so, what are they?

Good purchasing routines will ensure that

  • you consider whether it is necessary to purchase anything at all
  • re-use is considered where this is possible
  • you do not purchase more than you need
  • the right product is chosen.

When you go a-shopping, you should emphasize quality and durability. Durable products equal better resource management and are financially sound. Fewer repairs and spare parts replacements, as well as lower energy consumption, equal reduced maintenance costs. Sometimes, however, it makes sense to choose a product with short durability, as long as the waste handling process is improved: Single use drinking cups that can be easily processed and recycled may be preferrable to more durable single use cups that are trickier to process and recycle etc. By focusing on the lifespan cost of products, the most financially sound purchases can be made.

Regarding purchases, you should keep quality and lifespan in mind, to ensure that long-lasting products with low running expenses are chosen. Long-lasting products are economically sound and also mean that resources are better utilized. Quality products minimise running expenses by requiring less repairs, replacement parts and energy to operate. Maintaining a focus on costs during any particular product’s lifespan ensures that only the most resource-effective products will be chosen.

Tips on routines and better purchasing

  • One person should be in charge of purchasing and drawing up written routines. This person should also be in charge of storage and maybe also waste management. This will ensure that the purchases are being coordinated with the operational and waste management needs, providing better opportunities to reduce procurement and purchase goods.
  • You should create a purchase policy that states the vision and goals you have for your purchasing process. It should include information on how the purchase policy will result in less environmental impact. The purchase policy gives employees as well as suppliers information on what your priorities are and how you wish to work.
  • Create purchase instructions. In these, you can state that you wish to prioritize products that:
    • …are produced with recycled materials
    • …are suitable for reuse, with practical waste handling
    • …are economically sound in a product life span perspective
    • …contain fewer ingredients that harm the environment
    • …are produced under ethical conditions
    • …don’t destroy ecosystems or impact biodiversity
    • …support local suppliers and travel short distances
  • In your purchase policies, you can also state that you wish to work with suppliers who have introduced environmental leadership, which could mean they have received Eco-Lighthouse certification or ISO 14001/EMAS certification. The purchase policies must be deeply rooted in management, and be implemented in the daily operation by both managers and the purchasers.
  • Find out what purchases will be necessary for your event beforehand. Everyone in charge of an area must begin reporting to the purchasing manager well in advance, preferably 4 – 5 months prior to the event.
  • The purchasing manager co-ordinates all purchases. Think alternatively, both regarding products and range of use.
  • Check your stock – is it necessary to buy this particular product?
  • Is the product available at local suppliers? This will save you unnecessary transportation.
  • Buy the right quantities, and check if the supplier accepts the return of unused products.
  • Demand that the supplier accepts the return of packaging.
  • Consider the product’s life span. An expensive product may last longer and therefore pay off in the long run.
  • Choose environmentally sound, certified or recyclable products (e.g. note pads and pens made of recycled material).
  • Use environmentally certified printing services for flyers, posters, magazines, tickets, etc.
    Demand the use of recycled paper
  • Ask your suppliers and design-/ad agencies for environmental management documentation. Demand that your suppliers have quality- or environmental systems. You can request concrete parts of such a system, e.g. that the supplier must identify and use the products with the lowest impact on the environment. The firmest line you can take with your suppliers is demanding that they have a certified environmental management system implemented (ISO 14001, Eco-Lighthouse etc.) or that they commit to working to acquire such a certification within six months of your agreement.
  • For accommodation services, choose environmentally certified hotels or campsites, if there are any nearby.
  • Identify what the products actually contain and prioritise those that:
    • …have a high content of recycled materials
    • …have a low content of health and environmentally hazardous materials
    • …have low energy consumption
    • …have low water consumption
    • …have long durability, and possibilities for repair or service
    • …have multiple purposes and upgrading possibilities
    • …come with a recycling system for both product and packaging
    • …are not genetically manipulated
    • …are organic or come from environmentally certified suppliers
    • …feature materials/ingredients from FSC-certified forests
    • …are labelled Fairtrade
  • As much as possible, avoid products that:
    • …have biohazard warning labels
    • …must be handled as special waste
    • …are disposable/portion packs
    • …can’t be documented as having been produced under ethical conditions (ethical and fair trade)

Equipment management and storage

Having a well organised system and a suitable place for storing material from year to year will pay off in terms of environmental concerns and your economy. In order to know where everything is at all times, so that you can avoid having to buy new equipment, you should establish some simple routines:

  • Only one person should be in charge of the storeroom and the equipment. It would be an advantage to merge the roles of the equipment manager and the purchasing manager
  • Keep the storeroom clean and tidy, and make an inventory list
  • Mark all equipment well
  • Make a lending list where everyone must note down what they have borrowed and when the equipment has been returned
  • The lending list must be used at all times, both before, during and after the event
  • Store your equipment in such a way that it isn’t harmed

Example of a simple lending list template


Item/bits and bobs


Phone number

Date and time

Due back:

Date and time


Date and signature

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Please print with anything but Firefox (as its print function is bugged).

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