Hi, it’s Evelyn again! It’s my final week here at UHN doing my Practicum placement and my 12-weeks just seemed to pass by like a blur. I thank all my uber-efficient and green teammates for all their help and enlightenment on the green initiatives that UHN is currently doing. I have focused much of my time on possible Green Procurement initiatives and within the limited time I had, here are some of the things I learned…
What is Green Procurement?
Green procurement (as defined by the Public Services and Procurement Canada) requires the integration of environmental performance considerations into the procurement process including planning, acquisition, use and disposal. Value for money is imputed in the process which includes the consideration of many factors such as cost, performance, availability, quality and environmental performance. Green procurement also requires an understanding of
1. the environmental aspects and potential impacts and costs, associated with the life cycle assessment of goods and services being acquired.
2. the supporting administrative processes and procurement methods that can offer opportunities to reduce the environmental impacts of operations.
What are expected results of green procurement?
Doing green procurement will:
• benefit the environment by contributing to environmental objectives, such as:
o reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air contaminants;
o improving energy and water efficiency;
o reducing ozone depleting substances;
o reducing waste and supporting reuse and recycling;
o reducing hazardous waste; and
o reducing toxic and hazardous chemicals and substances.
o Reducing or eliminating solid waste (and thus reducing disposal costs)
• lever the purchasing power of the UHN hospitals to achieve economies of scale in the acquisition of environmentally preferable goods and services, potentially reducing the cost for the organization
• result in more environmentally responsible planning, acquisition, use and disposal practices in the all the UHN sites; and
• support a healthier working environment for employees and for patients and clients in general through the purchase of environmentally preferable goods and services.
What are typically associated as green costs?
As an accountant, my first answer to product or service costing will be the landed-cost valuation of products or services (plus costs of financing if it is a capital buy). However, when it comes to green costs, other considerations are processing or re-processing costs, waste handling and disposal costs, costs to the staff and patient’s health and the environment. Health costs include potential harm of using toxic chemicals to the potential impact of chemically-treated food ingested.
Environmental costs could mean any of the following (but not exclusively): energy expended, water use, land use, greenhouse gas emission, hazardous waste/pollution, ecosystem protection, sustainability, etc.
What are opportunities and potentials?
There are limitless potentials for green procurement…from green paper to greener housekeeping supplies and even hiring greener transport companies! There are also opportunities to collaborate within sites and departments to standardize best practices and to share knowledge of eco-friendly solutions. Leveraging partnership with Plexxus and other partner organizations, UHN can drive its vendors towards becoming more eco-friendly. Some examples would be in streamlining the number of vendors used and in moving vendors to reduce packaging and/or to use more eco-friendly packaging.
Refer to the Energy and Environment team’s Green Procurement guide to help you make environmentally-sensitive buying decisions.
And there’s a policy for that too: 1.120.008-doc
Also, when in doubt about the eco-certification of the product you are using or if you have suggestions for green procurement, please feel free to forward your suggestions or concerns to the Energy and Environment team.
How does this support the UHN’s mission and values?
UHN’s vision of global impact, local accountability supports the value of green procurement by being good stewards through the way it purchases and selects resources used in its sites.
As with any endeavor, there will always be challenges in making green procurement decisions. Some may come from internal pressures and some may be externally-driven (mainly costs). The key is to be open to new ideas and reflect on past experiences and current processes to see where possible improvements can be made. The first step is usually the most difficult one but can be very rewarding. Even small modifications in either the product/service or its delivery and the processes whereby resources are used can have a tremendous future impact. For example, a reduction in packaging that saves even $0.30 a unit for a product that is used 50,000 times a year becomes a $15,000 annual impact! If ten items are identified then multiply that 10X and expect $150,000 in cost reduction!
Engagement can be done through various forms such as listening to new ideas (or doing electronic suggestion boxes), facilitating small teams (aka task forces) looking at green procurement initiatives and adding the “green procurement checklist” before the RFP processes. Also, consider having a green champion for each department who will be partnering with the Energy and Environment team to continuously search for possibilities for green procurement in their area. There are lots more ideas for engagement but these are just a few things to consider.
There is much to learn and lots to look into. The important thing is to continuously take the small steps towards greener procurement.
Thank you for the time and support you have invested in my learning! I will miss the Energy and Environment team but it is a small world and I am certain our paths will cross again. All the best to the team! Happy Greening!!!
Public Services and Procurement Canada – Policy on Green Procurement
London School of Economics – Procurement documents
International Institute for Sustainable Development – IISD’s Business and Sustainable Development: A Global Guide
WWF – Living Planet at Work