At UCLH, procurement accounts for around 76% of our carbon footprint, so understanding, planning and implementing measures to address it are a crucial component of our 10:10 commitment. When we were selected as a partner in the Carbon Trust's low-carbon procurement pilot scheme, we jumped at the chance to tackle the issue head-on.
The scheme involves a 3 month pilot study intended to embed carbon reduction into our purchasing activities, introducing whole-life carbon costing as a key consideration alongside quality and price. As well as the boost this brings to our own emissions cutting effort, the lessons learned from the pilot will be used to help other NHS trusts establish their own procurement schemes.
Low carbon procurement presents a real challenge, as it demands that we stop thinking of sustainable supply and value for money as opposing forces. It will require everyone in the NHS to think creatively about how to deliver health and social care now and into the future - substitution, innovation and effective engagement with suppliers will all become crucial in making this happen.
A key element of the strategy is our neutral vendor procurement scheme. Designed in collaboration with our partners, the scheme is expected to result in substantial reductions in transport emissions in London and surrounding areas. The vendor will work with supplying agencies, collecting, storing and distributing efficiently to customers from a central hub. By cutting down on unnecessary journeys, the scheme will also ease traffic congestion and improve local air quality - an outcome that promises significant public health benefits.
Procurement is one area in which the NHS can really make a difference in cutting emissions. Carbon associated with the extraction, processing, assembly, packaging, transport, storage and handling of products and materials that are consumed directly and indirectly by service providers account for 60% of the carbon footprint for the whole of the NHS.
Tackling this part of our footprint won't be easy, but for UCLH, getting into the spirit of the 10:10 challenge means upping our ambition and discovering what's possible. By sharing our experiences through 10:10 and the Carbon Trust, we hope to make it easier for other organisations to do the same.
If you would like to get in touch with Trevor, to ask his advice regarding your own carbon cutting activity, email firstname.lastname@example.org