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Global carbon emissions have been reported to be at an all time high and despite the growing minority who are attempting to live and work in greener climes sporadic improvements and commitment to change simply isn’t enough

The public sector and more specifically the NHS is reviewing how sustainable government legislation  can be effectively implemented. As the NHS is undoubtedly the largest organisation in the UK it inevitably has the largest carbon footprint. The majority of the NHS emissions are generated through the extraction, processing, manufacture, distribution and disposal of purchased goods and services.

NHS Supply Chain recognises the importance of reducing carbon emissions and has invested in new equipment and technologies in order to achieve this and to ultimately give customers the assurance that supplies are responsibly sourced.

NHS Supply Chain achieves carbon efficiencies from the transportation of goods and services through the consolidation of deliveries and use of low carbon technologies. By using NHS Supply Chain as a supplier for a large proportion of its consumables orders, the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital NHS Trust (RLBUH) see’s fewer deliveries, a reduced carbon footprint from deliveries and less congestion at its loading bay.

NHS Supply Chain worked with the procurement team at RLBUH to calculate the carbon emissions from deliveries at their Liverpool site. Data captured over a ‘typical week’ of operation showed that across an average year, all deliveries to the trust emitted an estimated 54 tonnes of carbon from vehicle emissions.

The study estimated that, due to the consolidation of large volumes of products on one delivery rather than multiple smaller deliveries, NHS Supply Chain deliveries were almost four times more carbon efficient than other suppliers. The consolidation of orders, deliveries and invoices more specifically meant additional back office savings for RLBUH.

The consolidation of routes across the South West of England has enabled NHS Supply Chain to reduce the carbon footprint of deliveries whilst maintaining service levels. Before 2009, 60 NHS Supply Chain vehicles made approximately 500 deliveries a day from the distribution centre in Bridgwater to over 3,000 locations in the South West area. Following an investigation into how to reduce the number of vehicle trips, NHS Supply Chain divided the area into five separate geographical zones and then organised journeys so that each zone received a delivery service once a week. Having launched the initiative in 2009 after extensive consultation with customers, NHS Supply Chain has saved an estimated 10,400 vehicle miles a year – a total annual carbon emission reduction of five tonnes.

In 2011 NHS Supply Chain supported the trial of the world’s first 18 tonne hybrid drive distribution vehicle. The vehicle incorporates a regular diesel engine that is activated only when the vehicle reaches a certain speed. At low speed, a battery and electric motor create the power source.

December 2011 has also seen the arrival of the newest additions to NHS Supply Chain’s delivery fleet, in the form of the first teardrop trailers and wagons in Europe. The trailers and wagons have several benefits which aren’t just aesthetic, the innovative teardrop shape not only allows for fuel economies by being more aerodynamic between the truck cab, body and trailer but at the end of its life several components of the trailer and wagon are recyclable. Other benefits include:

•    Automatic engine shut off in the cab to save fuel
•    Rear ultrasonic detectors to prime mover and trailer.
•    Optimized unit lengths for maximum capacity

For more information on NHS Supply Chain and our sustainability activities please visit:


Written by Jayesha Mistry
Monday, 05 December 2011 16:04

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