Sustainable approach adopted by South Essex NHS Trust

24 May 2013

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24 May 2013

South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT) has implemented a greener approach to its procurement service, following a six-month review.

The changes include consolidating deliveries, standardising products as well as a ‘green switch’ on its office supplies.

The trust is one of the first to take this approach and is part of SEPT’s pledge to meet the standards set out in its Sustainable Development Management Plan & Implementation Framework. The framework was developed in response to a government drive for greener practices in the public sector.

SEPT, which is predominantly a mental health trust, has grown exponentially in the past two years and diversified into community services. On reviewing procurement practices, it discovered it was wasting money on excessive deliveries and the use of too many different products. Nina Scotland, associate director of purchasing at the trust, explained: “Taking on extra services, such as dentists, practice nurses and podiatrists, we noticed all were working individually, using different products and delivery services. So, we decided to standardise the products we were buying and combine all deliveries. Not only has this cut costs, it has also reduced our carbon footprint.”

The other big saving came from a new approach to buying office supplies. Working with Office Depot SEPT undertook a comprehensive review of its products and looked to replace existing office materials with sustainable alternatives wherever possible. This ‘green switch’ method was put into action last month and is expected to save SEPT £37,000 for the year.

Scotland said: “This is an ongoing challenge, as although there are more sustainable products coming to market, pushing prices down, there are still some products we buy where there is no green alternative. We will continue to work with our supplier to find a solution.”

The trust is delighted with the first month’s figures and Scotland told SM that the partnership with Office Depot is developing a template for the process, which they hope to roll out to other trusts in future.

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