NHS Suppliers: everything you need to know about mandatory Carbon Reduction Plans

August 2023

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The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has publicly committed to net zero carbon emissions across the health service by 2040. This target is benchmarked by an impressive 80% reduction milestone between 2028 and 2032. At the heart of this transformation are the vast network of suppliers that live in the NHS’ supply chain. These suppliers are now facing serious pressure to slash their emissions and publish a Carbon Reduction Plan (CRP). What's more, there are new regulations are on the horizon which will make it mandatory for NHS suppliers to disclose their emissions reduction plans. It's a move towards transparency and accountability, underpinned by a clear incentive: suppliers failing to align might run the risk of losing their NHS contracts.

Timeline: when you need to deliver your CRP?

As of April 2023, all NHS contracts worth over £5 million per year require suppliers to publish a Carbon Reduction Plan (CRP) covering scope 1, 2, and relevant scope 3 emissions. This aligns with the UK government's Procurement Policy Note 06/21 on tackling climate change through public procurement. By April 2024, CRP requirements will cover all new frameworks operated by Major NHS framework owners, and yes, even for SMEs. In addition, Net Zero commitments will be required for all NHS procurements.

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Carbon Reduction Plan: What is it and how do you make one?

Let's take a closer look at what a CRP (Carbon Reduction Plan) entails. Essentially, a CRP provides detailed information about a supplier's greenhouse gas emissions and outlines their specific targets and actions for reducing these emissions over time. In simpler terms, suppliers need to demonstrate measurable progress in cutting emissions across areas like buildings, transport, and the supply chain.

To support suppliers in this process, the NHS offers training webinars, online resources, and a Net Zero Supplier Roadmap. However, it's important to note that developing, implementing, updating, and reporting high-quality CRPs is a complex and resource-intensive task.

Suppliers aiming to showcase their commitment to sustainability can take part in the Evergreen Sustainable Supplier Assessment. This online evaluation enables suppliers to measure their practices against the NHS's environmental objectives. However, it's important to clarify that this assessment is voluntary and doesn't replace the need for a comprehensive CRP that's publicly visible.

Now, let's talk about the business side of things. With NHS contracts valued at over £6 billion annually, adhering to mandatory carbon reporting requirements is critical for suppliers who want to maintain their business relationships. Those who proactively address these requirements gain a competitive edge in the procurement process.

But here's the twist: simply creating a CRP isn't enough. The NHS has its sights set on achieving a net-zero system-wide by 2040. This means that suppliers need to continually make progress in reducing emissions. Those who don't make adequate progress risk the possibility of their contracts being terminated.

In summary, CRPs are a crucial aspect of NHS supplier relationships, and understanding their significance can help suppliers navigate the evolving landscape of sustainability and procurement.

Next steps: taking action today

As the April 2024 deadlines approaches, now is the time for NHS suppliers to take action. Putting in place carbon measurement practices and carbon reduction plans will soon be compulsory to bid on an NHS contract. Subcontractors in NHS supply chains should also get ready for new reporting requirements flowing down the supply chain.

Trace can help NHS suppliers collect and make sense of their carbon data, provide you with detailed carbon analytics and generate presentation-ready reports that can help suppliers efficiently meet NHS sustainability demands. With the right tools and strategy, NHS suppliers can turn carbon reporting mandates into an opportunity to build trust and transparency within the health service while future-proofing their business. 

Contact the Trace team today to learn more about how we can help your organisation meet NHS sustainability requirements.

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