Event | Driving the circular economy in healthcare through innovation procurement

30 June 2021 | 11:30-13:30 CEST

Health Care Without Harm Europe and EcoQUIP+ are organising an online event to present and discuss the opportunities for increasing circularity and sustainability in healthcare by leveraging the sector’s purchasing power to stimulate innovation.

Register below

Procurement can be a powerful strategic tool to help achieve sustainability objectives in your organisation. Healthcare accounts for 4.4% of global carbon emissions, and approximately 75% of healthcare emissions in the EU derive from the supply chain i.e. the production, transport, use, and disposal of goods and services. Plastic in particular has become ever-present in healthcare supplies, due to the dramatic shift towards single-use items in recent decades. Though essential for healthcare delivery, plastic negatively affects both human health and the environment at each stage of its life cycle - resource extraction, manufacturing, use, and disposal. Over-reliance on single-use items threatens the resilience of our healthcare systems, as evidenced by shortages of medical protective clothing at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of single-use items should be reserved only for situations where alternatives do not exist.

Healthcare procurers can play a crucial role in stimulating innovation to reduce healthcare’s plastic consumption and environmental burden, whilst ensuring both resilience and maintaining a high standard of patient safety and quality of care. Procurers can transform procurement practices and make choices based on the zero-waste hierarchy - progressively eliminating/substituting harmful or unnecessary plastics and prioritising toxic-free items that can be reused or reprocessed. Where products cannot be safely reused or reprocessed and local waste management allows, recyclable products should be considered as well, increasing recycling capacity when necessary.

Though many solutions already exist on the market (e.g. reusable gowns and drapes or reusable sterilisation containers), innovation is still needed to ensure that more healthcare items can be safely reused or reprocessed, and to help scale up solutions that already exist, increasing demand and production, so that they can be implemented in healthcare facilities across Europe.

This online event will be organised in two sessions:

Session one: Open webinar

30 June 2021, 11:30-12:30 CEST

An open webinar with presentations on embedding circularity in the sector and promoting innovation and sustainable solutions through procurement.

Introducing innovation procurement
Gaynor Whyles, Director - JERA Consulting

Embedding a circular economy model through sustainable procurement 
Arianna Gamba, Circular Healthcare Programme Manager - Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe 

Towards Zero Waste Operating Theatres: Innovation procurement in action
Sam Willitts, Head of Sustainability - University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS FT 

During the webinar we aim to:

  • Raise procurement professionals’ awareness of circularity in healthcare and the opportunities to stimulate innovation through sustainability criteria in procurement. 

  • Present Towards Zero Waste Operating Theatres - a statement of demand for solutions to support a transition to zero-waste operating theatres.

Register for the webinar

(All participants welcome)

Session two: Closed forum

30 June 2021, 12:30-13:30 CEST

Participants are also invited to register their interest in attending the second part of the event, which will be a closed forum for procurement officers, sustainability managers, as well as other invited participants. In this forum we will ask participants to share their challenges and best practices, and discuss opportunities for collaboration on these topics.

During the forum, we aim to: 

  • Get participants’ input on the innovation/sustainability demands and build support for the joint statement of demand, Towards Zero Waste Operating Theatres.

  • Share experiences regarding the solutions already in place and discuss how to overcome challenges to scaling them up across health systems.

  • Open a discussion on what sustainability criteria can be used to implement the circular economy in healthcare, what demands healthcare can make for the industry, and what further innovation is needed.

Register your interest in attending the forum

(Registrations will be reviewed on a rolling basis, only approved participants will receive a confirmation email)

Webinar speakers

Introducing innovation procurement
Gaynor Whyles, Director - JERA Consulting

Since 2005, Gaynor Whyles has been a pioneering expert in the field of innovation procurement. She is passionate about the potential of procurement to drive innovation to improve public services, address social challenges, and create economic opportunities. She has facilitated numerous innovation procurement projects and related capacity building activities across Europe. She has co-authored several peer review papers and authored several guidance documents, policy papers, and case studies on innovation procurement.

Embedding a circular economy model through sustainable procurement
Arianna Gamba, Circular Healthcare Programme Manager - Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe 

Arianna leads the Circular Healthcare Programme at HCWH Europe, with the goal of ensuring European health systems drive markets towards toxic-free products that conserve finite resources, minimise waste, and contribute to an ethical supply chain and circular economy. She manages a portfolio of projects as well as overseeing implementation of an EU advocacy strategy related to public procurement, circular economy, and sustainable supply chains. She has over seven years international experience in the non-profit, intergovernmental, and business sectors in the areas of cooperation and development, international affairs, healthcare, and sustainability.

Towards Zero Waste Operating Theatres: Innovation procurement in action
Sam Willitts, Head of Sustainability - University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS FT 

Sam Willitts has worked in environmental roles across the public sector and has been in his current role since 2010. Along with tackling carbon emissions through both engineering and behaviour change approaches, his efforts are focussed on embedding sustainability in activities across the Trust. Key sustainability successes at the Trust have been achieved through developing partnerships with organisations across Bristol and beyond. He completed a One Planet MBA at Exeter University in 2014.



HCWH Europe gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the European Commission (EC)’s LIFE programme and The Flotilla Foundation. HCWH Europe is solely responsible for the content of this project and related materials. The views expressed do not reflect the official views of the EC or The Flotilla Foundation. 


The content of this document represents the views of the authors and the EcoQUIP Plus Consortium only and is their sole responsibility, it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.