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Collaboration With Suppliers is Key to Achieving Net Zero

17 July 2023

Blog by our Head of Sustainability Heidi Barnard

Last year, the NHS set out an ambitious net zero target, put in place teams to support its delivery, and has been vocal about encouraging other health care systems around the world to follow its lead.

In this blog we are going to talk about what we mean by net zero and what this means for suppliers, particularly those supplying into NHS Supply Chain.

First of all let’s talk definitions. Terms like net zero and carbon neutral are often bandied around in the main stream media interchangeably.

However, the two things are not the same, and the NHS use of the term net zero is deliberate:

  • Carbon neutral: Typically refers to Scope 1 and 2 emissions and is focussed on carbon offsetting
  • Net zero: Encompasses Scope 1, 2 and 3, and all green house gas emissions.*

*The seven greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PCFs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).

Heidi Barnard Head of Sustainability - Small Image

Now onto the NHS ambition, we have two very clear targets:

  • For the emissions we control directly (the NHS Carbon Footprint), we will reach net zero by 2040, with an ambition to reach an 80 percent reduction by 2028 to 2032.
  • For the emissions we can influence (our NHS Carbon Footprint Plus), we will reach net zero by 2045, with an ambition to reach an 80 percent reduction by 2036 to 2039.

For our supply chain, this gives a very clear message about our direction. To build on this and to give our suppliers a clearer idea of what the path to net zero will look like for healthcare, the NHS Net Zero Supplier Roadmap was approved by the NHS England Board in September 2021.

Five asks of suppliers

When it comes to NHS Supply Chain and the suppliers within our frameworks, we are also trying to be clear with them about our ambition, but also what we expect of them now.

I call these our five asks – these align with the NHS Net Zero Supplier Roadmap.

The roadmap sets out clear milestones for anyone wanting to supply to the NHS – what we want, by when, and what we expect as a minimum from our suppliers.

At NHS Supply Chain we are also looking across our portfolio and identifying the areas that need work.

This ranges from our overall logistics contract to each of the frameworks we provide. It defines how we present and give our customers information and data, to enable them to make informed choices.

Collaboration is key, as we all need each other to reach our net zero ambitions.

Contact us for more information:

Sustainability Team

1. Carbon Reduction Plan
Do you have one? Is it up to date? If you are not already required to have one as part of the £5 million plus per annum threshold, are you ready for April 2024 when all procurements will be in scope of net zero commitments?

2. Social Value
What can you do over the course of the contract which relates to the product or service you are offering? Do you understand the impact the product has, and how you will measure the improvement over the course of the contract?

3. Evergreen Sustainable Supplier Assessment
Have you completed this?
See our Useful Links section to find out more and follow the process.

4. Net Zero Supplier Roadmap
Are you familiar with the roadmap, do you understand it, and are you preparing for upcoming milestones, and if so, does this support the social value you can bring?

5. Modern Slavery
Have you completed the Modern Slavery Assessment Tool (MSAT) and do you have a plan in place to pick up on the recommendations it makes?