Impact analysis of Sustainable Procurement programme at UMC Utrecht

State Secretary van Veldhoven on this study: “This analysis shows how an action plan can be used to anchor SRP in the organization and how this can create a fully-fledged role for SRP in realizing sustainability ambitions. With the lessons from this analysis I hope to help other government agencies develop effective action plans, too.”

CE Delft was commissioned by Utrecht University Medical Centre (UMC) to carry out a ‘quickscan’ of the socio-ecological impact of all the product groups handled by its procurement department. The aim: to establish which categories have the greatest lifecycle environmental impact or come with a major risk of negative lifecycle social impact and thus offer greatest potential for securing targets under its sustainability procurement programme.

One of UMC’s strategic targets is to achieve ‘CO2-neutrality’ in 2030. We estimate the total annual climate impact of UMC’s current procurement practices, both services and medical, at 158 kilotonnes (kt) CO2-eq., equivalent to that due to the annual electricity use of over 100,000 households. The product groups contributing most are Medicines (41 kt CO2-eq.) and Energy (36 kt CO2-eq.), followed by Implants (12 kt CO2-eq.), Mobility (11 kt CO2-eq.) and Disposables (11 kt CO2-eq.).

Another strategic target is to achieve ‘circularity’ in 2030, the main aim of which is to minimize impacts with regard to resource scarcity. In this case it is Energy that contributes most, with Medicines second, followed by Mobility, Implants and Disposables.

UMC is also aiming to minimize lifecycle impact on human health and ecosystems. The product groups scoring high in terms of climate impact and resource scarcity also contribute most in this respect, too, together with Food and Textiles. With Food, it is above all meat and dairy that have a major environmental impact, due to the huge consumption of animal feed and methane production by cattle. With Textiles the impact is due to the high consumption of energy, water and chemicals associated with raw materials extraction and production.

The study shows that ‘social risks’, such as poor working conditions and health complaints, derive above all from Medicines, Medical equipment, Reusables, Disposables, Textiles and ICT. To reduce these impacts will require collaboration with other (care) institutions.

With the results of this study Utrecht University Medical Centre can set priorities, improve its Sustainable Procurement policy and thus enhance its sustainability performance.

For each product group recommendations are made to UMC’s Procurement department, with tips on how to reduce impacts.