5 Ways Supply Chain Can Lead the Effort to Promote Sustainability and Protect the Environment


Sustainability is now on the list of factors that many health care supply chain professionals consider when making purchasing decisions. This has led to a shift towards environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP). Supply chain can show great leadership by directing efforts to promote and achieve sustainability goals…here are just a few.

  1. Evaluate your organization’s current efforts related to sustainability and look for opportunities to support and expand those initiatives.
    It is critically important for supply chain to be a strategic asset in accomplishing the organization’s goals. Therefore, it makes sense to start by evaluating the organization’s current stance on the topic and look for projects that are already underway where supply chain can add value and improve outcomes. Partnering with housekeeping, facilities management and design and construction departments to develop recycling and waste stream management programs can be a good way to get started.
  2. Utilize resources from your GPO and AHRMM to educate yourself on the availability and impact of sustainable products and solutions.
    Most GPOs are actively involved in evaluating sustainable products and services. They can be an excellent source of information on the effectiveness of various alternatives and can connect you to other GPO members addressing the same issues. Additionally, AHRMM’s knowledge center provides a variety of articles and case studies on sustainability.
  3. Incorporate sustainability concerns into your value analysis process.
    Value Analysis teams frequently focus on determining the total cost of ownership for various products and services. Factoring in environmental and other sustainability issues into the analysis will further enhance the decision-making process. Evaluating things such as packaging material, risk of chemical exposure, water utilization requirements and product disposal costs are all important factors to consider.
  4. Create a “green team” that can look for and evaluate sustainable opportunities – be sure to include non-clinical representatives from areas such as IT and facilities management. 
    Forming a “green team” to evaluate and prioritize sustainability issues allows supply chain to capitalize on the expertise and interest of many employees who may not currently be engaged with the value analysis process. This can be a great way for supply chain to collaborate with areas such as design and construction, facilities management and IT.
  5. Partner with your suppliers to learn how they are addressing sustainability. 
    Many suppliers have sustainability programs and are looking at how their manufacturing processes impact the demand for raw materials, their carbon footprint and other environmental concerns. Incorporate a discussion of sustainability into your business review and ask potential suppliers to address their efforts when issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP). Look for opportunities to partner with your supplier to discuss such things as how to reduce packaging waste and minimize the environment impact of transportation.

For expanded education on sustainability check out AHRMM’s sustainability resources.

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