Meeting NHS Net Zero: A Roadmap for Suppliers Towards a Sustainable Future

The National Health Service (NHS), which is working to address the urgent issues of climate change and environmental degradation, has made a bold commitment to attain NHS net zero. This dedication includes not only the NHS but also its vendors. Suppliers are essential in helping the NHS achieve its net zero goals because they are trusted partners in the provision of healthcare services. In my latest blog, I will discuss the steps NHS suppliers must do to align with the NHS Net Zero and the schedule they must follow as we all work to create a greener and more sustainable healthcare system.

The NHS is determined to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040, a landmark target that demands the participation and collaboration of all stakeholders within the healthcare ecosystem. As an NHS supplier, your organization’s active engagement in reducing carbon footprint and environmental impact is essential to realise this ambitious goal.

Step one in your journey towards NHS Net Zero is conducting a comprehensive carbon footprint assessment. This evaluation will help identify the areas where your organization’s activities contribute to carbon emissions. Key focus areas may include manufacturing processes, transportation, and energy consumption. Once identified, develop a carbon reduction plan to mitigate these emissions through efficiency improvements, renewable energy adoption, and carbon offsetting.

To reach NHS Net Zero, suppliers must integrate sustainable practices into every aspect of their business. Fundamental stages in minimising the environmental impact of your organization’s operations include implementing energy-efficient technologies, improving supply chain logistics, and minimising waste output. Adopting circular economy concepts, where waste is minimised through recycling and reuse and resources are used effectively, can considerably aid in this endeavour.

Suppliers are encouraged to engage in ethical sourcing and procurement practices. This involves partnering with suppliers who share a commitment to sustainability, environmental responsibility, and social welfare. Collaborating with like-minded suppliers will help create a ripple effect of positive change throughout the supply chain, ultimately fostering a more sustainable and eco-friendly healthcare system.

Carbon Literacy training is essential for NHS suppliers as it helps them understand the significance of carbon emissions and their role in mitigating climate change within the healthcare supply chain. By raising awareness and providing knowledge on sustainable practices, carbon literacy training enables suppliers to identify carbon-intensive areas in their operations, adopt greener alternatives, and align with NHS net zero. This training not only strengthens their partnership with the NHS but also enhances their reputation as socially and environmentally responsible entities, driving positive change, and contributing to a more sustainable healthcare ecosystem.

  • From April 2023: for all contracts above £5 million per annum, the NHS will require suppliers to publish a Carbon Reduction Plan for their UK Scope 1 and 2 emissions and a subset of Scope 3 emissions as a minimum (aligning with PPN 06/21). The Carbon Reduction Plan (CRP) requirements for the procurement of NHS goods, services and works guidance outlines what will be required of suppliers and how it will be implemented.
  • From April 2024: the NHS will extend the requirement for a Carbon Reduction Plan to cover all procurements.
  • From April 2027: all suppliers will be required to publicly report targets, and emissions and publish a Carbon Reduction Plan for global emissions aligned to the NHS net zero targets, for all of their Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
  • From April 2028: new requirements will be introduced overseeing the provision of carbon footprinting for individual products supplied to the NHS. The NHS will work with suppliers and regulators to determine the scope and methodology.
  • From 2030: suppliers will only be able to qualify for NHS contracts if they can demonstrate their progress through published progress reports and continued carbon emissions reporting through the Evergreen sustainable supplier assessment.

The NHS’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions presents an unprecedented opportunity for suppliers to actively contribute to a sustainable and environmentally responsible healthcare system. Suppliers can play a pivotal role in driving positive change by conducting carbon footprint assessments, embracing sustainable practices, engaging in ethical sourcing and investing in their workforce.

As we collectively strive to combat the urgent challenges of climate change and work towards a greener future for healthcare, we invite you to join forces with Positive Planet. Let us embark on a journey of sustainability, with our expertise we can assess your carbon footprints and help you set clear net-zero targets and support you to reach that target.

Positive Planet will also be speaking at a Sustainability Partnerships webinar in a couple of weeks around this topic with a focus on sustainable supply chains. We hope to see you there, find out more and register.

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