PRODUCTS & SERVICES The survey also showed that only 28 percent

of respondents recognized greenwashing as a “problem,” 9 percent a “significant problem,” 26 percent an “occasional problem,” while the rest either were neutral (34 percent) or didn’t see it as a problem at all (3 percent). Perhaps the most noteworthy revelation from

the survey results are the sources of informa- tion on sustainability and “green” label claims. Among the top four: More than 81 percent cited the supplier/vendor/manufacturer, fol- lowed by nearly 80 percent listing their group purchasing organization, followed by nearly 56 percent pointing to publications and then nearly 48 percent relying on Greenhealth Exchange. Healthcare sustainability sources shared their

thoughts on the issue of greenwashing detec- tion with Greenhealth Exchange commenting on the survey results: “This is the exact reason the Greenhealth Ex-

change was established. Even with past encour- agement, information on what was sustainable and why has been difficult to identify — especially without extensive work, which no one has to spare. Since the start of GX in 2016, GPOs have certainly improved the information they are offering, but the conflict represented from having a portfolio that represents both options without focusing and driving volume to the more sustainable products does not communicate to the supplier community that demand for [sustain- able] products exists and as a result, the pricing delta can still present itself. This is usually a deal breaker when sustainable product options are being evaluated. “If suppliers are likely the source of greenwash-

ing, which means exaggerating or falsifying sustainable features/attributes of a product, and respondents ranked suppliers as their No. 1 source for information on a product’s sustainabil- ity features, there are likely products in use that add no value from a sustainability perspective, but are believed to be sustainable by the hospital using the product. Suppliers are certainly the best source for information about their products, but unless one knows pretty specifically what information to request and review, it’s difficult to be confident a decision is based on sound data. “GPOs are often viewed as an extension of a

healthcare supply chain contracting work, so it’s not surprising that they are also a source for in- formation on a product’s sustainability. However, in some cases, the information is available, but guidance on how to select the right features/ attributes is not. So additional research and re- view is needed at the organization level, making the process cumbersome and even impossible if there isn’t a knowledgeable source at the hospital to review the data.” Mary Starr, Vice President, Member Care, Greenhealth Exchange

“I don’t feel that discerning the reliability of la- bels and weighing-in on potential greenwashing

should occur at the department, unit or supply chain level. Depending on the goods and/or services to be provided, legitimate third-party vet- ting should take place to avoid potential future liabilities over misrepresentation. Every product has a different set of environmental standards to attain to be considered ‘sustainable,’ and the needle continues to move forward to measure these standards. It would be unusual to expect that a singular source in an entity could vet sustainable products unless they were simply following the common accredited sustainable branding guidelines.” Mary Crawford, Senior Director, Procure- ment and Supply Chain, Small Business Liaison Officer and Certified Supplier

Diversity Professional at Duke University Health System

“Engage with organizations like GX or [Health

Care Without Harm], which can help determine real from fake products. Promoting a certifica- tion system for products, such as GreenScreen Certification (Clean Production Action) would decrease those concerns. This should happen at the contracting stage.” Sister Mary Ellen Leciejewski, OP, Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Dig- nity Health

“A sourcing agent’s due diligence when man-

aging a contract portfolio includes researching any product specifications and understanding performance concerns, including any vendor sustainability claims. We seek out independent information whenever possible and highly value our partners at Greenhealth Exchange and similar organizations who inform on our decision making process as well.” Jeffrey Stoner, Purchased Services Admin- istrator, Dignity Health

“We must define what the various terms

mean, such as ‘natural.’ Many items that are considered ‘natural’ can be dangerous if used in large quantities. In fact most dangerous chemicals like mercury are naturally occurring. Once defined, we must educate/train our supply chain, caregivers and leaders on the terms and definitions. The sourcing stage is certainly a good place for review of greenwashing, but I would suggest that we as healthcare [organizations] should be coming together to clear up the confu- sion and making known to the supplier side as well as the GPO side our expectations. I feel that GPOs have an obligation to make sure that the contracted products are not only price-worthy but also quality-worthy. Steven Bergstrom, Director, Office of Sustainability, Intermountain Healthcare Supply Chain Center

“Departments don’t know, and they can’t tell by reading labels. First, an organization needs

to determine areas of focus for sustainability and then establish ‘their definition’ of what aspect of sustainability is most relevant to their organization. This may include relying on third- party certification of sustainability attributes. Too often making a decision to use a sustain- able product can result in negative eco-impacts. For example, use of a product that eliminates chemicals of concern may not be able to be recycled or reprocessed, which can be more harmful to the environment but safer for the patient. Once priorities for the institution have been established those criteria/standards need to be incorporated into every product or service selection with contract requirements to deliver. GPOs perform the core contracting functions for many providers and need to ensure that the eco-friendly nature of the products are articu- lated and made available on contract. It is not enough to have a checkmark that something is ‘green.’ Specificity is required. Only the manu- facturer can provide that information, and the first opportunity to do so is to have it categorized appropriately with the GPO.” Bruce Mairose, Vice Chair, Supply Chain Management — Category Management, Mayo Clinic

“Leveraging the work of credible organizations

in the sustainable procurement space can really help cut through the confusion. For example, EPA has published a listing of recommendations of specifications, standards, and ecolabels for use by federal purchasers that is a good place to start at recommendations-specifications-standards- and-ecolabels-federal-purchasing. While a bit outdated, the EPA’s Comprehensive Procure- ment Guidelines also provide some insights into paper procurement. Practice Greenhealth has established a number of standards, particularly related to chemicals of concern in healthcare. The Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council is working on a longer term project to evaluate ecolabels and standards and continue the work of the EPA to help procurement professionals drive positive impact by requesting products that meet standards that help drive reductions in the critical ‘hotspot’ areas for each product category. “Staples tracks more than 48 environmental

attributes found across our assortment and can provide our contract customers reporting as well as a ranking of whether an environmental attribute is basic or advanced in terms of its likely contribution to reducing impacts for that category. Asking for these types of products or services during the contracting stage is recom- mended so that you are able to compare how effectively different providers can meet your environmental requirements and factor that into your decisions.” Jake Swenson, Director of Sustainability, Staples • HEALTHCARE PURCHASING NEWS • December 2018 51

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