Better food buying to help reduce NHS carbon emissions

27 January 2009

27 January 2009 | Paul Snell

Menus in the NHS will rely less on meat, dairy and eggs in the future to reduce the health sector's carbon footprint.

In its new carbon reduction strategy, published today, the health service pledged to take a more complete approach to the way it buys sustainable and healthy food. This will include the introduction of seasonal menus, sustainably sourced fish and developing and choosing vendors using low carbon production methods and transportation.

The NHS is aiming for a 10 per cent reduction in its carbon footprint by 2015. Contributing to the government's target of reducing UK carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

The plan, Saving Carbon, Improving Health, pledged to use the NHS's £20 billion purchasing budget to help reduce emissions. Procurement activity accounts for 11 million tonnes of the 18 million tonnes of CO2 the NHS produces each year.

The report promised a straightforward approach. It would begin by examining whether products need to be purchased, stock levels, and if they can be reused or recycled. All NHS organisations should also begin to ask suppliers their approach to detail their sustainable development and carbon reduction plans.

The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency, Department of Health, NHS Sustainable Development Unit and the Sustainable Development Commission are collaborating to produce guidance for buyers on how to implement the strategy, to be published later this year.

The strategy is the result of a report into the NHS's carbon footprint published last year (Web news, 3 June 2008).


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