NHS Scotland spearheads first national, cross-discipline contract for reuse

Written by: Carolyn Cross | Published:

The Scottish Health Service has achieved a world first with a contractual commitment to furniture and equipment reuse that expects to generate savings of more than £300,000 and major carbon reductions across procurement, facilities management and waste services in the first year.

The contract, which was awarded to the Warp It online reuse platform, is the first such scheme to operate on a national basis. It is available to all of the 140,000 staff working in the 2,000 NHS facilities across Scotland and will also link up to schools, local authorities, businesses and charities.

Wendy Rayner, sustainability manager, Facilities Directorate, Procurement Commissioning and Facilities, NHS National Services Scotland, explained: "Reuse and sharing of surplus assets is important for NHS Scotland because over 50% of our carbon emissions come from the supply chain and procurement of goods. Anything we can do to extend the lifetime of products and delay purchase reduces spend and environmental impact. NHS Scotland realises that the most sustainable procurement is when we do not have to procure."

Under the Warp It scheme, customers are guaranteed a return in savings of at least five times the value of their investment in the first year. However, founder and chief reuse officer at Warp It, Daniel O'Connor, says he has experienced cases where organisations benefited from a saving equivalent to 200 times the contract value. He explained that although reuse is typically seen as a waste management solution, the benefits to procurement often prove far more significant: "NHS Tayside were the trailblazers in Scotland; in two years they were able to make savings of £72,000, far outstripping the investment of £4,400."

Rayner added: "Warp It has already been installed by 30% of the councils and 60% of the universities in Scotland have also signed up as members."

The scheme works in a similar way to web-based trading sites such as ebay. Participants agree to abide by terms and conditions, which help manage any legal concerns around misuse. Members list unwanted items, which can then be viewed and claimed by others. When assets are added to the system, they are first advertised to internal staff. Those unclaimed after a period of time may be sent to storage or can be advertised to preferred partners on the system.

Warp It is unique in offering an automatic means for internal and external redistribution of goods which also tracks assets to report on waste, procurement, carbon savings and donations to charities. Donations of surplus stock to charity last year totalled more than £340,000.

Signing up on a national basis has enabled Scottish NHS partners to save 70% on fees. O'Connor said: "Our aim is to make reuse mainstream in organisations, so we like this type of large scale partnership arrangement as it results in more reuse and a much greater impact."

Rayner concluded: "We hope that over the next one to three years, reuse of assets within NHS boards becomes second nature. Reuse fits in with current policy as each NHS board has its own waste reduction and sustainability targets. Furthermore, by linking up the boards in this way, we increase resilience across the whole of the NHS. Scotland as a whole is leading the way in the adoption of circular economy practices; it makes commercial sense for the NHS to be at the forefront of these developments and the benefits can then be passed on to patients."


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