Bert Kloppers has been with UT for 22 years. In addition to his usual duties as a procurement officer, Bert is also the point of contact and booster of the topic of sustainability within procurement, a department that is increasingly focused on sustainability. "What I try to convey to my colleagues is: look where the opportunities are, and take each other along in this way of thinking."
In 2000, Bert responded to a newspaper ad: UT were looking for a financial officer at the former Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. He explains: "During that time, I was just doing procurement 'on the side', and it was only about ordering. At some point, procurement was centralized within UT, which created the current department. It's a very nice diverse job, where all kinds of things come along. Tenders, contracting, supplier interviews: you name it!"
Sustainability is becoming an increasingly common theme within the purchasing department. Bert explains: "I am the first point of contact for sustainability within the purchasing department, in which I am supported by the SEE programme. As a department, sustainability is becoming a precondition for everything we do. We recently attended a workshop by Local Matters, which resulted in four new initiatives that we are going to develop further. These initiatives consist of collecting more data, setting up sustainable web shops and applying SROI (Social Return On Investment) in tenders."
Bert has noticed that a new way of thinking is emerging within UT and within the procurement department, with sustainability becoming increasingly important. "People are taking the subject a lot more seriously than twenty years ago. That includes myself. I think a good example of that is UT's vehicle fleet. It has become a lot smaller, and if its possible we drive electric. We also source regional suppliers whenever possible, to reduce transport movements as much as we can."
He continues: "What I find very important, and also try to convey to my colleagues, is: look for opportunities, big or small! You can always try to keep sustainability in mind when you make an order. As procurement consultants, we are happy to help you with that. It is also important to name your reasons for making a particular choice, because we can engage each other along in this new way of thinking."
Bert has noticed a shift in thinking when it comes to sustainability. Not only at work, but also in his personal life: "In the past, I wasn't really concerned with living sustainably. I never separated waste, for example, and I just went to work by car. Nowadays, from my position as a buyer, I am consciously working on the theme. Because of that, you unconsciously make more sustainable choices in your private life. I cycle to work and I have made my house more sustainable with solar panels and better insulation."
"There are some wonderful sustainability initiatives happening at UT as we speak. Think, for example, of the vegetarian working lunch that has now become standard, or the provision of free fruit to employees. In the past I would have thought: it's no big deal if some is left over, but now I think that being wasteful is a real shame. Maybe we should start growing our own vegetables on campus," Bert laughs. "But a lot more needs to be done. We need everyone to help with that. I would love it if every department at UT set up a sustainable initiative. Together we can really make a difference, both on and off campus!"
Sustainability is an important priority area of Shaping2030, the University of Twente’s strategic plan. In addition to finding sustainable solutions for societal issues, the UT wants to set a good example of what it means to be a sustainable organisation. To reach this goal, the ambitions of Shaping2030 need to be put into practice. Many members of the UT community are hard at work translating the sustainability objectives into our work on campus – transforming the way we work, teach, learn, travel, build and more. In this series, we invite them to talk about what motivates them, what the role of sustainability is in their day-to-day work, and what they would like to achieve at our university.
Want to find out more about sustainability at UT? Please go to utwente.nl/sustainability.
Written by Stef Meilink