“I strongly believe Supply Chain should be involved in all discussions and analysis,” he insisted. “They can be the gatekeepers for products and services coming into the healthcare environment, and what happens as things exit our operations. They can carry our message to our suppliers and use our purchasing power to force needed change.” Mary Crawford, Senior Director, Procure-

ment and Supply Chain, Small Business Liaison Officer and Certified Supplier Diversity Professional at Duke University Health System, urges Supply Chain’s role to predate any products passing through the facility doors.

“Enforceable sustainability language should be included in the RFP and contract- ing process with vendors to ensure they are supporting health system goals,” she indicated. “Long-term ROI of green prod- ucts and services should be measured more closely in lieu of simple price comparisons, and vendors should be willing to partner with health systems to implement products and programs in this area. For example, if Styrofoam is eliminated in a facility, the vendor could help promote this awareness and drive momentums such as this with both guests and staff members.” At Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, Bruce Mairose, Vice Chair, Supply Chain Manage- ment — Category Management, outlines and itemizes Supply Chain’s approach. “Supply Chain should be evaluating en-

ergy consumption of medical equipment, work closely with biomedical services to en- sure that component batteries and life cycle maintenance are meeting expectations and reducing the waste stream,” he said. “There is a tremendous opportunity to work with and contract for eco-friendly products in food services, transportation infrastructure, and a multitude of recycling programs from products used in clinical areas to technology waste stream management. Supply Chain can also greatly influence the purchase of

sustainable office supply products, common products that all employees purchase and use every day.” Leading office supply retailer Staples

practices sustainability as much as it preaches sustainability to its customers, according to Jake Swenson, Director of Sustainability. “For Staples internally, supply chain refers to our logistics and delivery opera- tions,” Swenson said. “And yes, this is an important part of our operational sustain- ability efforts to reduce emissions waste and associated costs to deliver products to our customers. But supply chain is also often referred to as the procurement of goods and services to run your organization or business. If that is the meaning, then for us we absolutely recognize that one of the ways we can reduce our impacts and help our customers do the same is through sourcing and selling more sustainable products to our customers.

“Since we don’t manufacture [products], we work to partner with suppliers and brands to offer more sustainable products that meet our customers’ quality and value expectations,” he continued. “Today about 30 percent of the products we sell have en- vironmental features. Our Supplier Code of Conduct lays out our expectations for our own brand suppliers with respect to social, health and environmental issues as does our Paper Procurement Policy.”

Green Team needed? Staffing a dedicated “Green Team” or sus- tainability committee shouldn’t diminish ef- forts and vision around sustainability goals and objectives, leading to procrastination, according to GX’s Starr. The GX-HPN survey found that 50 percent of survey respondents reported having a dedicated sustainability group in place. “Work can get done with or without a team/committee, but these types of proj-

ects span multiple areas and levels within an organization, and the usual approach in healthcare in these scenarios is to use a team/committee structure,” Starr admitted. “Whether a team/committee exists, critical to success is established goals that are set, or endorsed by leadership, and communi- cated regularly as part of the organization’s priorities. The team/committee is merely a mechanism to organize the work. If Sup- ply Chain isn’t at the table when these discussions are taking place and work is underway, then they need to proactively seek involvement.

“Someone, whether it’s a team or indi- vidual, has to champion sustainability ef- forts in order for real progress to be made,” Starr insisted. “As everyone knows, health- care resources are stretched thin, and new demands are presented almost every day. Without a group or individual consistently focusing on sustainability, something else will expand into that time/space — espe- cially when leadership is clearly conveying that this is an important goal.” A sustainability committee or cham- pion keeps opportunities and goals in the forefront, according to Starr, including developing a plan, identifying priorities, eliminating roadblocks and tracking and communicating progress. “For healthcare professionals, every day brings a new priority, and without a champion or committee or clear direction from leadership that is continually bringing sustainability to the forefront, the efforts can easily be put aside,” she added. “Because sustainability is often viewed as a nicety instead of a necessity, it isn’t always given the same level of attention that other initia- tives may get.” HPN

Visit through-smart-purchasing/ for another piece of the story: Clearing the air through smart purchasing by Cindy Juhas

How is ‘greenwashing’ whitewashing sustainability initiatives? A joint survey of healthcare organizations con-

To figure out how something works or learn how to build or put together a product you read the instructions. To see what makes up a product, such as components or ingredients, you read the label. The challenges with either of those aims is when the instruction and label writers aren’t clear in their communication or when they are a bit too “creative,” flying fast and loose with language that may stretch the truth or even outright misrepresent it. Eco-friendly or environmentally friendly prod- ucts as part of sustainability initiatives are no

exception to this whether inside a healthcare facility, retail outlet or consumer’s home. How can hospital executives and depart- ment heads then discern legitimate and real sustainable products from the alternatives that claim sustainability in label only? How can Supply Chain and Sustainability teams ascertain if a product’s label claim is exagger- ated, misleading or simply false? Should that happen at the review and sourcing stage? Bidding and contracting stage? How can healthcare organizations educate themselves in this area?


ducted by Greenhealth Exchange and Healthcare Purchasing News in late summer found that Supply Chain is just beginning to learn the extent of this problem. Only 50 percent of survey respondents could define the term “greenwashing” as “exagger- ated or false claims about a products’ sustainable or environmentally preferred features. Another 43 percent stated they had never heard of the word or were unfamiliar with the definition. Seven percent defined greenwashing as “the marketing of a product as sustainable.”

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