New resources to support sustainable procurement in health care

  • Global

Health Care Without Harm presents five new quick guides, developed to help hospitals and health centers support and advance their sustainable procurement programs.

Sustainable procurement criteria and guidelines are a fundamental building block of a comprehensive sustainability program. The choice of which products to buy, and their environmental and social attributes, are critical when evaluating the environmental impact of health care delivery. 

Strong sustainability criteria help improve the sustainability of the sector and help institutions meet their goals. Together, hospitals and healthcare systems across the globe can use their purchasing power to increase demand for products that reduce harm for people and the planet.

Health Care Without Harm works with hospitals and experts around the world, and together we have developed five new quick guides that analyze and evaluate procurement criteria and tender specifications for gloves and disinfectant products.

New quick guides:

  • Sustainable procurement criteria for examination and surgical gloves: Standardized tender criteria addressing priority sustainability issues for examination and surgical gloves [English] [Spanish]
  • Toolkit - Sustainability criteria for examination and surgical gloves provides additional resources to support the implementation of the standardized tender criteria for gloves [Englisht] [Spanish]
  • Surface disinfection: Procurement criteria for chemicals used to disinfect surfaces  [English] [Spanish]
  • Hand hygiene: Procurement criteria and safer alternatives for products used for routine hand hygiene [English] [Spanish]
  • Instrument disinfection: Evaluation of procedures, procurement criteria, and benefits of products used for high-level disinfection of instruments [English] [Spanish]


Why gloves?

370 billion units of nitrile gloves alone were produced in 2020. Single-use exam and surgical gloves have been identified as priority products to replace with more sustainable alternatives. 

Gloves are also a priority for focused attention because of documented concerns about the use of forced labor in the supply chain. In addition, they are associated with significant greenhouse gas emissions and have a large ecological footprint at all stages of the product’s life cycle including disposal, potentially causing harm to health and the environment. 

The sustainability criteria include questions about the environmental and social impacts of glove production, and the material and chemical ingredients used. Areas considered include greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous chemical, material, and resource use, packaging, and social issues including labor conditions. 


Why disinfectants?

Some of the chemicals commonly used in disinfecting products or in routine hand hygiene have also been shown to pose hazards for employees and the environment and may increase antimicrobial resistance.

Avoiding chemicals of concern reduces health hazards, protects water systems, and reduces the impact of health care delivery. Health Care Without Harm recommends health care facilities avoid surface disinfectants containing ingredients that have sensitizing, carcinogenic, mutagenic, repro-toxic, or chronic toxicity properties or that are toxic to aquatic organisms, and to replace them with safer, effective alternatives.