Edinburgh University '˜bans' conflict minerals

The University of Edinburgh is the first higher education institution in the UK to adopt a policy of not buying goods containing so-called '˜conflict minerals'.

Picture: TSPL

The move is aimed to put pressure on suppliers to eradicate the minerals (often used in devices such as mobile phone and cars) associated with financing wars in Africa, from their supply chains.

The policy, which aims to find alternatives, also applies a broader definition to include any minerals used to fund conflict in any part of the world.

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The university will also link with research on conflict minerals, promote student engagement through learning and teaching, and raise awareness among staff and students.

Fairtrade Fortnight - a series of events raising awareness of fair trade and sustainable procurement - is currently underway at the university.

The university will work collaboratively with procurement consortia and the wider public sector to meet its commitment. Complex international supply chains mean that many electronics purchased could knowingly or unknowingly contain conflict minerals.

Suppliers will be asked to report on their supply chains, the risks of conflict minerals being present in the goods they sell and strategies they are taking to eradicate conflict minerals. Every effort will be made to use responsibly sourced natural minerals.

Dave Gorman, director of social responsibility and sustainability, said: “The University is committed to sustainable procurement, from the electronics that we buy in large amounts such as computers, down to individual purchases made by staff.

“This new policy gives us a framework within which to work with our suppliers to encourage transparency in supply chains, take action where conflict minerals exist, and advise on more suitable alternatives to support companies with good working practices and ultimately improve the lives of vulnerable communities.”

The new policy builds on the university’s sustainable procurement strategy that seeks to create socially responsible supply chains.

Edinburgh is a founding member of Electronics Watch, an EU-wide initiative which supports public buyers in calling for fair working conditions in electronics manufacturing.