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Time to green up

Front Desk

Time to green up

 By Rob Darracott

It’s not often I’ve come away from a conference having both learnt something and been genuinely inspired to think all things are possible. Last month’s Healthcare Distribution Association session on the greening of the British healthcare sector was one such occasion. 

The HDA could hardly have ignored the climate crisis given the timing – it was the first week of COP26 in Glasgow. The pharmaceutical industry and distributors are on the case, and not just because the NHS roadmap to ‘net zero’ has milestones that might see them excluded from NHS contracts if they aren’t. For starters, I want to know more about the incremental gains in miles per gallon Alliance Healthcare is achieving through improved driving skills and delivery vehicle preparation, and the ‘green chemistry’ lowering the carbon impact of the industry’s manufacturing processes.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s declaration of climate and ecological emergency is therefore a timely act of leadership; you’ll find details here, with commentary from pharmacy organisations across the UK on whether climate change features on their workplans. Turns out it’s largely ‘watch this space’ and ‘coming soon’. 

They’re right. It can’t be long before the NHS ‘net zero’ commitments across the UK start to impact community pharmacy. Angela Alexander (see here), who has been writing for a decade or more about the need for pharmacy and pharmacists to consider the climate impact of what they do, says consumers are favourably disposed to businesses, services and products with sustainability credentials; as increasing numbers of suppliers at this year’s Pharmacy Show were keen to demonstrate. 

We all know that stocking eco-friendly products, using fully recyclable prescription bags, and choosing electric for delivery vehicles the next time round is not going to be the end of it for community pharmacy. Prescription products are in the sights too. Business owners are going to have to take the measurement of carbon footprints seriously, and plan to reduce the impact of their activities on the planet, like every one of the 80,000 suppliers of products and services to the NHS. 

Those who want to make a start should check out the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) webpages on measuring carbon emissions, which include the UK Government greenhouse gas conversion factors for company reporting. If you thought the specification for case finding in hypertension was complicated, then this one is a doozy.

It would be nice for pharmacy to be on the front foot for once, so a guide to completion or, better, a bespoke tool for pharmacy businesses, would be a great idea. Sustainability will no doubt be a significant feature of P3pharmacy’s coverage in 2022, and we would be very interested in hearing from anybody who wants to have a go at this. 

I was sufficiently motivated by my first face-to-face conference in two years to take the train last weekend rather than do a 300-mile round trip in a car. I’m delighted to say that Wolverhampton Wanderers rewarded my climate-saving efforts with another win. And there’s nothing more inspiring than that.

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