St George’s Hospital in Tooting is the first Trust in the country to decarbonise their patient menu, saving 23 tonnes of carbon, the equivalent of planting 30 acres of forests.

The Trust has reduced the carbon footprint of its patient menu by over eight per cent, the equivalent of charging 2,550,644 smartphones, with thanks to Mitie and Apetito who have supported the Trust in working towards its sustainability strategy.

Jenni Doman, Deputy Director of Estates and Facilities at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“The NHS has pledged to be Net Zero by 2040. St George’s is playing its part and, as part of our new Green Plan, we are undertaking a number of actions to reduce carbon emissions.

“Our decarbonised menus are attracting a great deal of interest and represent a significant reduction which we hope will provide inspiration for other hospitals to follow suit”.

St George’s is proactive in their approach to help the NHS reach Net Zero, the Trust was recently featured at COP26 as part of the NHS ‘Care for the future: delivering the world’s first net zero health service’ exhibition.

Making changes to the patient menu is the latest in St George’s efforts in reducing its carbon footprint. Other sustainability initiatives include:

  • Implementing a new programme to reduce emissions from anaesthetic gases. Using the most harmful gas, desflurane, for one hour is equivalent to a 213-mile car journey. St George’s has reduced its use of desflurane, which has contributed to CO2 emissions from this gas falling by 63% in 2020-21
  • Using recycled surgical instruments and items in operating theatres. For instance, in hand surgery, an estimated 22,000 items per year have been saved from the surgical kitsused in operations
  • A combined Heat and Power plant on the St George’s site provides excess renewable energy back to the National Grid – 1.9million KWh was exported back in 2019-20, enough to boil a kettle over 46 million times

Lee Sheppard, Director of Corporate Affairs and Policy for apetito says:

“The reduced carbon menus have been achieved through prioritising ingredients with a lower carbon footprint, such as white meats, fish, and vegan options.

“This is not about demonising any one ingredient or red meats.  It’s about making small changes to menu cycles that can have a significant, yet surprising, impact to the carbon footprint whilst ensuring that patient choice isn’t compromised.

“The challenge we faced at the onset was about ensuring patient preferences and choices were not impacted and through clever menu selection, we were able to ensure that patients could still enjoy their favourite meals. Notably, the reduced carbon menus have been achieved without compromise to quality, cost, or nutrition. It’s all about balance and a key learning for us is that small changes can have a large impact.”

Alice Woodwark, Managing Director, Communities, Mitie, said:

“From the origin of ingredients to how meals are prepared, the food we eat has an impact on the environment. Combating climate change is a priority for both Mitie and the NHS, so we’re pleased to be working with our suppliers to help St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust cut its carbon emissions. We look forward to continuing to use our sustainability and catering expertise to keep finding new ways to help the NHS reach its net zero goal.