According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA opens in a new tab), everything we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, upon our natural environment. Sustainability means doing the right things to allow people and nature to exist in productive harmony — now and for future generations. The U.S. committed to a national policy of sustainability in 1969 opens in a new tab.
Environmental Stewardship can be defined as “..the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment…It is also a behavior, one demonstrated through continuous improvement of environmental performance, and a commitment to efficient use of natural resources, protection of ecosystems, and, where applicable, ensuring a baseline of compliance with environmental requirements.” (EPA, 2005 opens in a new tab)
Today, environmental stewardship and sustainability are requirements for every organization around the globe, with the supply chain helping to drive stronger environmental performance. Premier supports its members’ sustainability goals and values environmental stewardship in healthcare purchasing.
- Premier’s EPP program is intended to identify environmentally-preferable products, packaging and services. In collaboration with our contracted suppliers, sourcing team and member committees, we help to ensure the availability of those products and services for our members.
- Premier works with suppliers to ensure sustainability information is made available before purchasing decisions are made. Our requests for information (RFIs) include questions on environmentally preferable policies and practices and are guided by our EPP Advisory Council.
- Comprised of sustainability specialists from a cross-section of member health systems, EPP Advisory Council input is vital to ensuring that our efforts reflect members’ goals, and that supplier documentation is fit for purpose. The Council serves not only to advise on EPP matters for contracts, but also as a forum for members to discuss how best to drive sustainability in healthcare and solve common challenges. Recent discussions have focused on plastic elimination in the foodservice setting, composting and waste disposal, and contractual barriers to increased reuse and reprocessing.
- Providers working with Premier, for example, can easily identify sustainable suppliers and products designed to reduce environmental impact, pinpoint gaps and opportunities, and benchmark against their goals. Premier technology opens in a new tab contains EPP information for more than 85,000 products and nearly 400 suppliers ─ and we expect this number to grow significantly over the next year.
- As a use case, Premier members are leveraging RFI information and supply chain data to support programs aimed at the reduction and elimination of certain anesthetic gases that have significant global warming potential such as desflurane opens in a new tab. In accordance with guidelines from both Practice Greenhealth opens in a new tab and the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) opens in a new tab, the data allows our members to track the percentage of their spend that contains the targeted chemical.
- Many of our contracted suppliers can assist members with energy-efficient products, equipment, services and engineering/construction design offerings, as well as energy procurement and options for renewable energy and related products. Rosters of environmentally-preferable contracted suppliers and contracts that support a safe healthcare environment are available in the Supply Chain Advisor opens in a new tab® catalog for members (requires login).
- For more information, please contact Andrew Knox, Manager, Environmentally Preferred Products. With more than 15 years of experience in research, development and sustainability, Andrew leads Premier’s Environmentally Preferred Products program and plays a central role in Premier’s wider sustainability efforts.c
Sustainability efforts make a positive impact on a provider’s bottom line. With more than 90 percent of hospitals opens in a new tab reporting higher energy costs over the previous year, an EPA study shows each dollar saved through energy stewardship is equivalent to up to $20 generated in new revenue for hospitals or $10 for physician practice offices.
How the Supply Chain can Drive Sustainability:
- Give Sustainability a Voice
Sustainability is an issue of great importance to health systems, and suppliers are now enhancing their commitments to relay what’s in their product, how it’s packaged and other environmental attributes.
- Harness the Power of Data
Sustainability analytics look at resource-related indicators such as materials consumption as well as energy and water usage. And now, organizations are incorporating several other next-generation metrics that drive sustainability performance, including product-level carbon footprint and Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) as well as public material traceability.
- Provide Feedback to Suppliers
Let suppliers know their products were purchased because of their reduced impact. Feedback from health systems helps reinforce to suppliers that the sustainable efforts and environmental improvements they undertake provide value and return on investment (ROI) to healthcare organizations and the market at large.
- For more information, read our “Going Green” blog opens in a new tab (March 3).