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By making ethical and green choices about our procurement, we can have a significant effect on the ethics and sustainable practices of the whole supply chain.

Consideration of sustainability and ethics in all our procurement decisions will help us to make better choices.

Reducing our use of goods

Reducing comes before reusing and recycling in the order of sustainable thinking. Please see our section on reducing waste in health care to see how we can reduce our use and procurement of single use gloves, couch roll, BNF’s etc.

A shift to reusable equipment

There are multiple ways that we can reduce our carbon footprint by choosing reusable over single-use equipment. For example, Sharpsmart bins can be emptied and reused many times for the collection of sharps. Many GP surgeries are now using reusable Type IIR face masks, such as those available from Revolution Zero. Also, in a link to clinical practice, there are now many patients who would be suitable for re-usable diabetic pens as opposed to single-use ones – see this presentation for more information.

Wider scale procurement decisions

At systems level, the adoption of a region-wide scheme to stop plastic bag use for collection of specimens, such as Indexor has led to significant reductions in plastic waste in some areas.

Your local organisation e.g Integrated Care System (ICS) could also consider whether they can work with the providers of reusable surgical instruments to oversee and support a reusable instruments service for GPs, using existing transport arrangements.

Schemes are available to reduce the wastage of medication when care home patients are admitted to hospital e.g. the NHS ‘red bags’ scheme.

Ethical purchasing

Linked to climate justice is the issue of social justice for low income communities across the world. Buying fair trade tea and coffee for practices supports an ethos in keeping with our belief that poorer communities should not be unfairly burdened by our consumption. Purchasing appropriate eco-friendly cleaning products for the practice supports our intentions to minimise our effect on the environment.

Practices might be interested in subscribing to Ethical Consumer, which allows up to 40 people online access to help the practice, and its staff, make ethical decisions on various services/products.