Key messages

  • There are several strategies for implementing more sustainable procurement of goods and services.
  • Products and services can impact on the environment during all stages of their lifecycle.
  • Positive improvements can be achieved by procurement outcomes.

Victorian public healthcare services procure goods and services directly, as well as through arrangements with HealthShare Victoria. Victorian health services can obtain more information or guidance on applying sustainable procurement by contacting HealthShare Victoria at healthservices@hpv.zendesk.com

Sustainable procurement

Sustainable procurement is when organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole-life basis. This generates benefits for the organisation, society and the economy while minimising damage to the environment.

The department’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy 2018-19 to 2022-23 identified a continuing role for sustainable procurement with a strategic direction to embed sustainability into health sector procurement. Principles identified by stakeholders during the strategy development included the importance of:

  • Evidence-based decisions: Evidence-based sustainable practices will be part of our daily work, and procurement will include life cycle assessments and ethical and sustainability considerations. Data will be collected and form the basis of continuous improvements.
  • Standards and protocols: Clear criteria for decision making will make sustainability an easy choice and there will be clear examples of best practice. There will be a strong position on national standards to reflect changing practices and the importance of sustainability.

All Victorian government departments and agencies, including public hospitals and health services in Victoria are expected to apply Victoria’s social procurement framework to their procurement strategies and activities. This standardised framework across government covers both social and sustainable procurement objectives of the Victorian government. Victoria’s social procurement framework is available on the buying for Victoria website.

The framework sets sustainable procurement policy objectives for reducing environmental impacts in our supply chains, in line with value for money procurement principles. 

These sustainable procurement objectives include the adoption of environmentally sustainable business practices by suppliers, the procurement of environmentally sustainable outputs, and project-specific requirements that assist implementation of the Climate Change Policy Objectives.

Sustainable procurement outcomes under the framework can include procurement of works, products or services that:

  • Maximise recycled content
  • Minimise waste and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Conserve energy and water
  • Minimise habitat destruction and environmental degradation
  • Provide non-toxic solutions

For procurement of capital works for healthcare facilities the Guidelines for sustainability in capital works also apply.

Life cycle management

Products can impact on the environment during all stages of their lifecycle. Some of these impacts can be managed through procurement strategies and processes that focus on sustainability.

Lifecycle stage

Procurement actions possible

Raw materials production

Consider applying environmental preference in purchasing selection. For example, goods that:

  • contain recycled content
  • use renewable resources
  • sourcing certifications to applicable national or international standards that cover best available sustainability practices in high-risk supply chains

Manufacture and distribution

Consider suppliers’ use of environmentally sustainable business practices within their own operations, or at the manufacturers they source product from.

Operation and maintenance

Consider ability to include product specifications on energy and water use, such as star rating systems from applicable national or international rating schemes.

Consider specifying performance standards that match the best available technology available.

Implement a continuous improvement regime involving robust contract management and relationship development with services suppliers to achieve specified environmental objectives.

Disposal

Consider specifications or requirements on suppliers that improve the ability to recover resources through recycling of waste product and packaging. 

  • e.g. packaging in reference to sustainable packaging guidelines
  • e.g. packaging and consumables that do not become clinical waste: in reference to acceptance criteria in hospital waste recycling collections

System re-design

Consider demand-management initiatives to reduce consumption

Consider asset-management strategies to reduce wastage / extend product life

Reconsider the need for the product, or use alternative processes to achieve the same health service outcome with lower environmental impact

Context – carbon footprint of healthcare

A study of Monash Health in 2010 found that close to 67 per cent of its overall carbon footprint was related to the procurement of goods and services.