Supply Chain

61% (18.9 million tonnes) of carbon emissions in the NHS Carbon Footprint Plus occur in the supply chain from 80,000 suppliers. Therefore, the NHS supply chain offers a significant opportunity for decarbonisation.

Supply chain emissions can be broken down into ffive main categories:

• Medical and non-medical equipment (18% of supply chain emissions)
• Food and catering (6% of supply chain emissions)
• Medicines and pharmaceuticals (20% of supply chain emissions)
• Commissioned healthcare services outside the NHS (4% of supply chain emissions)
• Other procurement (18% of supply chain emissions).

Commitment to eliminating carbon emissions in the supply chain is essential to becoming a net zero health service. This can be done in three main ways:

  • More efficient use of supplies
  • Low-carbon substitutions and product innovations
  • Ensuring our suppliers are decarbonising their own processes.

This can be accomplished by interventions and investments such as:

  • Commitment to the NHS Plastic Reduction Pledge which 145 trusts are already a part of
  • Shift to utilisation of low-carbon alternatives where possible
    • For example, bio-based polymers are expected to produce savings of approximately 498 ktCO2e in the future
  • Expansion of device remanufacturing schemes which both reduce carbon emissions and save money. Remanufactured products cost up to 50% less and generate 50% less CO2 emissions
    • For example, via implementation of a device remanufacturing scheme for electrophysiology catheters, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (in a year):
      • Diverted 102kg of waste
      • Generated £13,000 in revenue
      • Saved 70kg of CO2 emissions
      • Saved £12,000 on purchase price
  • Reduction in the use of single-use plastics
    • Over the long-term this could lead to a total saving of 224ktCO2e
  • Engaging with suppliers to eliminate carbon emissions in their processes. By the end of the decade the NHS will no longer purchase from suppliers that do not meet the net zero commitment, this is reinforced by PPN 06/21
    • This will deliver reductions of 9,446 ktCO2e per year.

Please also see our resource bank for specific resources on how to accomplish some of the measures outlined above.