On 7th October 2022, iNetwork hosted the event “Measuring Sustainability Down the Supply Chain”. This event focused on the importance of sustainability and carbon reduction within public sector procurement practices and what organisations are doing to measure the sustainability of their practices and supplies.

The event was hosted by Hannah Gains, Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the Connected Procurement and Commissioning (CPC) programme.

NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care – The Importance of Sustainable Procurement

Neil Hind, Net Zero and Social Value Consultant at NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care delivered the first presentation of the session, which focused on the work the Trust is undertaking and the sustainability goals for the organisation. Neil opened his presentation with a video providing an overview of the work the Trust are focusing on; you can view this video here

Following this, Neil spoke about the link between carbon emissions and poor physical and mental health. Air pollution is a great contributor to health complications and is linked to 1 in 20 deaths across the UK. By reducing emissions, there will be a lesser risk of asthma, heart conditions and cancer which will in turn reduce the pressure on the NHS. In response to the climate emergency and risk to the health of the population, the NHS became the world’s first health system to commit to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Research has shown that the NHS supply chain is, on average, responsible for 62% of the carbon emissions across the organisation and is a key focus in achieving the Net Zero targets across the UK. In response to this, NHS Greater Manchester have analysed the data within their supply chain carbon emission research and have discovered that their top 100 suppliers are responsible for approximately 80% of carbon emissions; therefore by encouraging and working with these suppliers to reduce their carbon will have a substantial impact on the levels of carbon reduction.

Key Interventions for meeting the challenge are split between 3 workstream areas:

– Supplier Engagement concerns aligning NHS suppliers with Net Zero ambitions. A roadmap to 2030 has been launched which sets out requirements for NHS Suppliers to demonstrate progress towards Net Zero.

– Operational Interventions is about changing NHS demand to encourage more sustainable products and modes of use. “How to” guides and targeting tools have been developed to support and measure progress.

– Procurement Practice is the conduit that connects the other 2 areas, creating contractual mechanisms that embed net zero and social value into procurement decisions. From April 2022, all NHS tenders will require the inclusion of a minimum 10% net zero and social value weighting – net zero will be required in all procurements.

Key principles for achieving the workstream goals of a Net Zero Supply Chain are the “5 Rs” which provide a guide on good practice to reduce carbon emissions associated with procurement. There are “how-to guides” and case studies featured on the Greener NHS website to support local Trusts with the implementation of these practices.

There is a national drive to reuse walking aids and patients are being encouraged to return these when no longer required, which can then be cleaned and reused which will have a significant impact on reducing both carbon and spending cost to the NHS. You can find out more about Greater Manchester’s focus and where to recycle walking aids within GM here. There is also a focus on reducing the number of gloves being used within the NHS, this project started just before the Covid-19 pandemic, however there is evidence showing that staff are using gloves when it is not necessary. This was initially implemented by a Trust in London and they have noticed a reduction of approximately 33%, it is now being rolled out by Greater Manchester NHS. Transport and Logistics are being reviewed across Greater Manchester with the use of eCargo bikes to transport samples, information and pieces of small equipment across sites. There is a plan to replace all existing vehicles with ULEV/ZEV vehicles with a target of achieving 90% across the fleet by March 2023. Staff are also being encouraged to review the routes used by community health and social care provisions to reduce the reliance on car use and promote cycling or walking. This has been piloted in Wigan and it has been identified that as a side effect, it has encouraged more staff to consider and apply for these roles as a car is no longer an essential requirement.

Neil concluded his session by focusing on the Social Value agenda for the NHS. A 10% Social Value weighting has been mandated for all NHS organisations and the Real Living Wage is being considered for all employees across Greater Manchester NHS. Warm banks are being opened across all sites, including opening up canteens and other spaces within NHS sites to support people over the Winter months.

Cambridgeshire County Council and University College London – Procurement Tools to Measure and Reduce Carbon Emissions

Emily Bolton, Climate Crisis Strategy Manager, Cambridgeshire County Council and Dr Isabela Butnar, Senior Researcher in Bioenergy Systems, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources provided the second presentation of the session to discuss their project around a tool that has been developed to support procurement professionals in measuring and reducing their carbon emissions. This project was funded by the Local Government Association (LGA) Net Zero Innovation Programme

Emily introduced the session by explaining how Cambridgeshire have set carbon reduction and climate improvement targets as part of their environmental strategy and this project alongside UCL was developed as part of this. Initially, they focused on their carbon footprint which is primarily impacted by waste and construction. 96% of emissions is from Scope 3 emissions, primarily from the organisation’s supply chain. Emily discussed how the Council were struggling initially to identify the level of carbon emissions and the data collection was ad hoc as there were no succinct processes in situ. From this, it was identified a mechanism was required to overcome these barriers and to clearly identify the source of the carbon emissions within the supply chain. There was also no scope to make procurement decisions based on the carbon emissions of suppliers, smaller suppliers were also struggling to provide the information due to the lack of resourcing and understanding of how to calculate this.

The ultimate aim of the tool is to require suppliers to complete this as part of the tendering process, which will allow for consideration of the carbon weighting of all suppliers when procuring goods and services.

The tool was developed over 18 months with the two “carbon hotspots” in mind; Waste Management and Construction / Highways. The Waste Management calculator is due to be published in January with the LGA, with the Highways calculator being further developed and trialled within Cambridgeshire.

Isabela then spoke about how the Waste calculator has been designed and developed in a modular style to focus on each waste management method. Initially, the individual operations were mapped out to determine where the waste was coming from before it was being processed, then transportation and treatment of the waste. This tool was then trialled with other Local Authorities, including Worcestershire County Council and Severn Ways Water, a new model was further developed to include landfill; this tool can be easily expanded depending on the needs of the organisations.

In order to make the tool accessible, it was developed within Excel and provides instructions and guidance on the terminology used and how to complete the tool as well as calculation sheets and background data. Each spreadsheet corresponds to a different type of waste treatment to ensure the process is transparent and robust, whilst being easy for suppliers to complete. The calculator will allow users to view where their emissions are coming from and use this to consider what changes can be implemented to reduce their carbon.

Emily concluded by advising that following consultations with their suppliers, the feedback around the tool was positive and they were very keen and open to work with the team. There are 3 key takeaways from their supplier engagement:

– Ask the right questions and keep it simple – There is no point in the tool if it is too complicated to use

– Everyone has carbon on their mind, All parties wanted to progress to Net Zero, Further support is needed to enable all suppliers to progress with their targets

 – Don’t reinvent the wheel,  Understand what already exists, Share learning to ensure a co-beneficial process, Learn from those who are already ahead of you

For more information on the development and progress of this tool, please contact Emily and Isabela:

-Cambridgeshire County Council: Emily Bolton – emily.bolton@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

-University College London: Isabela Butnari.butnar@ucl.ac.uk


YPO – Responsible suppliers – key principles and proportionate expectation

Agnieszka Gajli, Strategic Procurement Manager, Professional Services at YPO concluded the event with her presentation on Responsible suppliers – key principles and proportionate expectations. At YPO, the sustainability objectives within the public sector are very important, for both their customers and their suppliers. They have 3 main objectives for the public sector:

– Support and enable customers to achieve their sustainability commitments
– Continuously review, refresh and embed sustainability across all solutions
– Sharpen focus on innovative sustainable solutions

The objectives are in line with the climate sector emergencies and priorities set by organisations across the UK. YPO aspires to set an example of the best standards in the public sector and expect their suppliers to share the same standards as they are an extension of their capability. YPO promotes a proportionate expectation to their suppliers and takes into consideration the size and capabilities of organisations within these expectations.

YPO monitors adherence to these expectations within the contract management process, it can be more difficult for public sector organisations as this often falls within a different team to procurement. Agnieszka emphasised that it is important to engage closely with suppliers and to ensure that there is an open dialogue around expectations and requirements.

The discussions and focus around sustainability and net zero have increased over recent years; this is in part to the growing awareness of our impact on the planet yet also largely driven by cost savings and market opportunities. There have been a number of recent policies and strategies released by the Government over the past 2 years around sustainability and carbon reduction, which has impacted suppliers and organisations as they are required to adhere to this ever-changing guidance. There is a requirement for YPO that suppliers evidence their understanding of the environmental impact their product provides, as well as their environmental policies; this is to ensure they are compliant with the recent regulations. YPO encourages suppliers to evidence the actions they are taking to minimise the environmental impact, this includes purchasing equipment that meets environmental standards, or outlining their innovative work in reducing emissions within their organisations.  Taking the current climate change and energy crisis into consideration, it is essential that organisations are aware of a supplier’s business continuity plans as there may be significant repercussions within the supply chains.

Agnieszka covered 3 main areas of public sector procurement; Insurance, Business Travel and ICT products (see slides below) and advised delegates on how their organisations can ensure their suppliers are adopting green practices and are working to reduce their carbon emissions.

For more information

This event was delivered to iNetwork members as part of the Connected Procurement and Commissioning (CPC) Programme. For more information, please contact:

– Hannah Gains, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, (CPC Programme Lead), iNetwork.