Removing 20 million plastic bags from circulation by replacing them with a 100% biodegradable alternative: just one of the key environmental initiatives from Unicef as part of its ongoing efforts toward ‘green’ procurement. Unicef, among the world’s most well-known child charities, revealed that remarkable statistic last week, which it achieved under its health and education kits that it distributes to children in some of the poorest countries in Africa.
In making the move to reduce the number of plastic bags it uses – many of which find their way into the world’s oceans and landfill sites – Unicef replaced bags for its health and education kits with bags made of corn husk that are 100% bio-compostable. The kits are handed out to children in some of the poorest countries in Africa for Unicef’s Back-to-School campaign that, if discarded, merely “become part of the soil or the water”.
Distributed to children in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Unicef made the decision to use the plant-based bags instead of more expensive plastic bags because the charity believed that the eventual cost to the environment was higher.
The work that Unicef has done to lessen its dependence on plastic bags was published in its 2017 Supply Annual Report, released in June. The report said that Unicef’s focus on delivering sustainable access to life-saving commodities yielded positive results not just for the environment but also “health, education, protection and social inclusion”.
Another area on which @UNICEF focused its attention on was reducing the waste generated by its vaccination programme that provides 80 countries with safe injection equipment to inoculates against disease. The Unicef campaign requires in the region of 30,000 cubic metres of equipment to be transported for it, so the charity awarded contracts to equipment suppliers based on considerations like reducing waste, among other sustainability criteria. Unicef predicts that its new way of procuring injection equipment will achieve a 12% reduction of contaminated waste from injection devices and a 6% reduction in transport volumes compared to previous years.
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