The document reveals the “hidden” cost savings that can come from focusing on waste reduction and ethical sourcing.

The strategy document reads: “Making sustainable choices does not necessarily cost more and can deliver efficiency savings in how we do business. We have realised financial savings and cost-avoidance by optimising the efficiency of our own distribution network and supply chain.”

Since 2008, NHS Supply Chain, which provides £5bn worth of patient-focused healthcare products and services to the NHS, has delivered a 14% reduction in carbon emissions, reduced energy consumption across its supply chain network by 18% and achieved a recycling rate of 71% from business waste.

The business has also tested a new fleet of hybrid vehicles across its delivery network, saving 452 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually – the equivalent of taking two million car miles off the road.

Yesterday it published the next stage of its sustainability strategy, running from 2013 to 2016.

Developed in response to the increasing focus on sustainability across operational and procurement activity within the NHS, the new strategy comes ahead of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit’s overall strategy due next year.

NHS Supply Chain focuses on five key themes: carbon, community, ethics and responsibility, natural resources and waste.

“Sustainable activities, such as reducing packaging and carbon, can deliver significant financial benefits to trusts as well in terms of reduced supplier costs and fuel usage,” a spokesman said. “It’s these hidden costs that can really add up. By improving sustainability across the supply chain, we can pass these benefits onto customers.”

With the focus on delivering cost efficiencies, sustainability often “falls down the agenda” when it comes to healthcare trust procurement activity, he said, adding: “By creating a more sustainable supply chain, not only are we securing the future; we’re also managing risk.”

Activities outlined in the new strategy include increasing transport efficiency by reducing CO2 emissions from delivery vehicles by 2.5% year on year; increasing the energy efficiency of the business’s network of regional distribution centres by 2.5% year on year; and reducing waste generation by increasing recycling opportunities with both suppliers and NHS customers.

NHS supply chain will also be supporting the government’s pledge to use sustainable palm oil within food and other products by 2015.

edie staff

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