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Reuse, not replace: how the IT Procurement team is slashing our carbon footprint

Reuse, not replace: how the IT Procurement team is slashing our carbon footprint

Home » Long read » Reuse, not replace: how the IT Procurement team is slashing our carbon footprint

As part of the NHS Midlands and Lancashire CSU’s Green Plan and commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, we have dedicated workstreams cutting across all aspects of how we operate.

This includes IT Procurement, which is working with suppliers and manufacturers to develop a way of assessing the carbon journey of the equipment we use – from manufacture to shipping.

Tracey Yates, IT Procurement Manager at MLCSU
Tracey Yates, IT Procurement Manager at MLCSU

As part of this, IT Procurement Manager Tracey Yates and her team have been asking suppliers for their Green Plan and requesting the Carbon Data Factsheet for each product. This information is then compared against that from alternative manufacturers and an assessment is made on the suitability of products based on their carbon output.

But it doesn’t end there. The IT Procurement team also assesses the Total Cost Ownership, which means the estimated carbon cost of using equipment. For example, the power required to run a typical staff computer and monitor for eight hours results in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to around 70g CO2e. A standard laptop and monitor, operated over a five-year period, creates a carbon footprint of around 755Kg CO2e. It is important to bear in mind, however, that 85 per cent of this results from manufacture and shipping, while just 15 per cent is from electricity consumption.

Tracey said: “There is a lot to think about and assess when making green decisions in IT procurement, but it is very interesting to understand the carbon cost of different types of equipment. When we consider the full lifecycle impact of providing and using IT, we need to consider both the upstream impact of supply and the downstream impact of disposal.

“For example, there is a significant difference between the carbon impact of a desktop and a laptop, mainly due to people wanting to replace the laptops more frequently. Therefore, the option to re-use/repair/upgrade should be considered wherever possible, before the decision is made to scrap, and buy new.”

Tracey’s team has also looked at using one larger screen monitor as a greener alternative to running two smaller monitors – thus reducing power usage and the need for a docking station. They have included social value and net zero questions in tenders and assess the suitability of suppliers on a wide range of environmental factors, including the use of an electric-powered fleet and non-plastic packaging. And the team has also embarked on carbon literacy training and started questioning the need to purchase equipment when an upgrade or repair is more suitable.

Tracey said: “Given that 85 per cent of carbon output is in the manufacture, if we don’t need to buy something, we shouldn’t.”

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