Sustainability, NHS Procurement and NOE CPC

  • 10/11/2020
  • Written by NOE CPC

Sustainability in context: A global challenge for everyone

Sustainability is often said to have three interdependent pillars: Environmental, Social, and Economic. These are reflected in the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals agreed by world leaders at the UN in 2015, with the aim of transforming the world by ending poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere.

Sustainability and NHS

As a major national institution, the NHS has its own initiatives which are aligned to UK national efforts towards achieving these global goals.

The NHS Long Term Plan published in January 2019 outlined a number of sustainable development commitments focused on making improvements to the health and wellbeing of the population through positive environmental impacts including:  

  • Reducing the carbon footprint and environmental impact of providing care
  • Reducing air pollution and contributing to a cleaner environment
  • Reducing the use of single use plastics - where appropriate and feasible.

Towards a Net Zero Carbon NHS

In terms of the environmental impact, it has been estimated that the healthcare system in England is responsible for 4-5% of the country’s carbon footprint. Against this background the UK government has recently committed to achieving a ‘Net Zero Carbon NHS’ by 2050 and become the world’s first carbon net zero national health system.

The NHS Net Zero Report identifies a number of areas critical to carbon reduction including:

  • Estate and facilities
  • Medicines
  • Supply chain
  • Travel and transport
  • Food, catering and nutrition
  • Research, innovation and offsetting

Procurement has a big role to play, with the production, transport and use of bought-in products and services estimated to account for over 50% of the NHS’s overall carbon footprint (NHS Natural Resources Footprint, 2018)

Sustainable Procurement initiatives at NOE CPC

The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) defines Sustainable Procurement as “a process whereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole life basis to generate benefits not only to an organisation, but also to society and the economy, whilst minimising damage to the environment.”

NOE CPC have established a Sustainable and Ethical Procurement internal project group to consider how we can embed sustainability into our category activity, through our category strategies, procurement processes, contract management and provide support to our customers utilising our frameworks.

Specific activities to date have included:

  • Development of a new NOE CPC Supplier Code of Conduct, which includes expectations and supplier’s obligations regarding the environment and social value
  • Consideration of sustainability factors within our category strategy development
  • Enhancement of our market risk assessment process to include greater consideration of sustainability factors
  • Incorporation of requirement specific criteria within our framework tender evaluation and weightings
  • Inclusion of information related to sustainability considerations within our new framework briefing documentation for use by our NHS customers.

We are increasingly incorporating sustainability considerations into our framework specifications with the support of our Project Sourcing Groups, evaluating suppliers on their ability to support and deliver sustainable services alongside other key technical criteria and including sustainability as a standard agenda item as part of our supplier relationship management.  We are also working to develop and include KPI’s relating to sustainability in our future frameworks and other solutions that can be measured and managed to ensure compliance.

NOE CPC’s Upcoming Sustainable and Ethical Procurement Event on Friday 27th November 2020

Alongside this work, NOE CPC is delivering an online event for its members around Sustainable and Ethical Procurement on Friday 27th November. For more information and to register for this event, please click here.

For more information about our sustainability strategy, contact our Support Desk on 0114 212 2122 or email

Further information on NHS’s sustainability goals and procurement’s role can be found at:

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