Sustainability landscape image

RJ Heron
Sustainability Engagement Officer
5 minute read

To provide great quality care we need to source many different goods and services, from clinical consumables to office supplies. On a national scale, NHS Supply Chain process 4.5 million orders annually and our procurement process is changing to become more sustainable.

What does this mean for us?

At SCFT our supply chain makes up almost three quarters of our carbon footprint-plus, which includes both our direct and indirect emissions.

By changing the our procurement process we have a huge opportunity to reduce carbon emissions, which will support us in our goal to reach Net Zero Carbon for our indirect emissions by 2045.

We often think of the supply chain as the final products that are delivered to us. It’s important to also think about the journey these products take before they reach us, and the emissions that are involved. This includes emissions generated by obtaining raw materials, manufacture, transporting goods, etc.

Driving the NHS to Net Zero lorry

What is social value?

Social value measures, have the potential to help reduce health inequalities, drive better environmental performance, and deliver more value from procured products and services.

In practice it means ensuring our suppliers are responsible and support us with our commitment to improve and maintain the health and wellbeing of our communities. For example, by ensuring a variety of organisations are considered during tender processes to we can make sure local businesses have the opportunity to win contracts.

It’s also important that we recognise that the way we deliver care impacts on our communities, for example through the air pollution caused by our business travel. That’s why we’re in the process of electrifying our operational fleet and investing in electric vehicle charge points across our estate.

The NHS Standard Contract

Since April 2022, the NHS Standard Contract has required all procurements to have a 10% sustainability and social value weighting. This means that consideration is given to the potential environmental and social impacts of a procurement throughout the tender process and throughout the contract period.

What’s new?

To further improve in this space and encourage our suppliers to provide a more environmentally conscious service. From April 2023, NHS suppliers of new contracts for goods, services, and works with an expected value above £5 million per year, will need to publish a Carbon Reduction Plan (CRP) for their direct and indirect emissions.

This involves suppliers disclosing their commitment to reducing their organisational carbon footprint against their baseline, and a trajectory of how they expect to meet their Net Zero targets. So we can make sure they have started to put the necessary measures in place.

We won’t stop here and already have a Net Zero Supplier Roadmap in place taking us to 2030.

What progress have we made so far?

At SCFT, we’re making progress to integrate sustainability into procurement. Trust-wide we use 93% recycled paper. Our overall paper usage has almost halved since 2019/20 from 28,000 reems of paper to just under 15,000 in 2021/22. We’d like to continue increasing the percentage of recycled paper we use across the trust to reach our goal of 95% and beyond.

Shredded paper

Through our Care Without Carbon programme, we plan to further embed sustainability and social value into the procurement process across the Trust.

The procurement and Care Without Carbon team meet regularly to discuss projects and upcoming procurements that may be of a high value or could have a large potential environmental impact. As these new requirements will be extended to all procurements form 2024, we will ask suppliers of new contracts complete a voluntary carbon reduction plan to familiarise ourselves with this new process and ensure it is successfully implemented next year.