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Work with suppliers with reusable medical textile options over single-use perioperative textiles


Segment    Family    Class




SDG Alignment

9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

SDG Target


Target Description

By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities

Level of Effort

Level of Effort Scale


1 -Quick Wins: solution involves adding criteria for the good or service being purchased (ex: certifications), minimal internal process changes.

2 -Long Term Adoption: solution requires some changes to internal processes and/or more capital investment (ex: digital transformation to reduce paper use).

3 – Disruptive Opportunities: requires significant investment and changes to internal processes (ex: retrofitting building)

Category Assessment

ETCH Procurement Process .png


• Assess your current inventory and cross-reference with your facility waste disposal data. You should have visibility since your waste disposal spend correlates directly with your carbon footprint and textiles usage. Perform cost analysis of switching from your current disposal textiles to reusable options.

• Conduct a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of your currently in-use stock. Measure the impact of the product from usage to disposal, track carbon footprint.

• Approach your current suppliers and see if they provide alternative supplies that are reusable. If not, make a case internally for the economics and environmental benefits of switching to reusables.

Opportunity Identification 

Buyers will have visibility in supplier practices, identifying sustainable guidelines when the company seeks out new suppliers. A push for a better buying practice and inventory control which will be an advantage as it will be a long-term cost saver.

Better involvement in supplier operations and alignment will drive for more sustainable practices, while reducing carbon emissions throughout the Lifecycle for the textiles' lifetime.

Strategy Build & Execution

• Weigh the benefits and drawbacks of a new inventory system, the need to clean products and garments, etc.

• Establish sustainability benchmarks; it would be beneficial to include regular, sustainable reporting if the budget allows.

• Determine your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): quality and maintenance accountability and responsibility, quality management, the turnaround time for orders.

• Set up an inventory tracking system, record your data and report on improvements in linen losses, reduced costs from switching to reusable, and against any of the pre-defined indicators in your program goals.

Supplier Negotiation & Contract

• Negotiate with existing/potential suppliers on the value-adding elements such as shipping and handling and disposal of end-of-life textile supplies.

• Submit a change order to contract, to include a sustainability clause and incentives for switching from disposal textiles to reusables.

• Consider implementing a warranty program with suppliers in case the quality of the sustainable alternative is not up to standard or as discussed.

• Leverage a long-term contract/guaranteed business and anticipated volumes for a lower rate with suppliers.

• Offer incentives to suppliers who prove continuous improvements in standards and upkeep with healthcare policies and regulations; choose suppliers that can leverage long-term sustainable solutions.

Supplier Performance & Management

• Use the recorded data from your textile usage, linen losses, reduced cost from the switch to measure the overall cost-benefit and level of safety standards. Your data should provide you with visibility into what is working and what isn't; use this data during internal stakeholder meetings and quarterly reports to decide how you should move forward with suppliers on continuing business proceedings.

• Schedule annual meetings to discuss new technologies or products released in the market concerning sustainable medical textiles and the scope for such products' procurement.

Resource Links

Overcash M. A comparison of reusable and disposable perioperative textiles: sustainability state-of-the-art 2012 [published correction appears in Anesth Analg. 2012 Sep;115(3):733]. Anesth Analg. 2012;114(5):1055-1066. DOI:10.1213/ANE.0b013e31824d9cc3

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