Net zero heroes – how Team NNUH are reducing their carbon footprint

Teams working across the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH) have taken the net zero pledge to help reduce the carbon footprint of the NHS.
As part of the Greener NHS agenda, the health service aims to become net zero by 2040.

The NNUH surgical and anaesthetic teams have taken the net zero pledge by forming a sustainability committee involving theatre staff, Serco, procurement, Infection Prevention and Control and Health and Safety colleagues.

The NNUH team have taken a significant step towards reducing greenhouse gases by removing desflurane – one of the worst polluting agents – from most of our operating theatres.

They have also switched to reusable trays for drawing up anaesthetic drugs. This change will save more than 2500kg CO2 a year, which is the equivalent to 6477 miles driven by a non-electric average car.

The theatres team also have plans to reduce non-clinical and clinical single-use plastic items, commence waste segregation and switch to reusable sharps bins.

Dr Amy Greengrass, Consultant Anaesthetist, said: “Climate change is the single largest crisis facing us today and is also a health crisis. In order to start meeting the NHS net zero targets, change needs to start happening now and we have an opportunity to be at the forefront of this change. Our Sustainability within Theatres Committee has already made significant changes since April 2021 and we know there is much more work to be done.”

“There has been a really positive reaction in the department amongst anaesthetic and theatre staff and climate change is very much in the public consciousness.”

“Inhalational anaesthetics are greenhouse gases and account for five per cent of all emissions from acute NHS hospitals. There’s an ongoing national project to reduce nitrous oxide which is a big contributor to greenhouse gases and we are cutting non-clinical single use plastics from our department.”

The NNUH Green Plan is due to be published later this year setting out our plans for the coming years to further reduce our carbon emissions.

Helping to provide cleaner air on the NNUH estate

One of the greenest hospital estates in the country has welcomed hundreds of new trees to help lower carbon emissions.
The estate of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has more than 16,000 trees with its own woodland around the perimeter of the site. This year more than 150 young trees have been planted to help create a second inner shelter belt.
This brings a number of benefits by offering protection from wind and heat as well as helping to lower carbon emissions and provide cleaner air.
Project lead and Environmental Arts Manager Emma Jarvis worked with South Norfolk District Council, Easton and Otley College, the Woodland Trust and other specialists in arboriculture.
“We know how important trees are in our battle against global warming. We’ve identified ample space for us to play our part in this fight and help reduce our carbon footprint. The tree species have been chosen specifically to cope with the rising temperatures of the planet.”

Turning coffee grounds into compost

Coffee grounds are being turned into compost at NNUH to help reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill.
Our Serco partners have started the ground breaking initiative with the ultimate aim of seeing all coffee grounds from our cafes, restaurants and individual staff members going into compost bins.
Abbie Downes, Retail Supervisor for The Pod and Green Ambassador for Serco Health NNUH, said: “On the first day from 6.30am to 11am we had collected 10kg of coffee grounds. On a daily basis from just one Pod we have been collecting 24kg-25kg of coffee grounds. We have three to four outlets and we can widen that out to office areas once we have this established.”
Mark Campbell, Serco’s Health and Safety Manager, added that green ambassadors have been created to generate good ideas to support sustainability.
He said: “The results are incredible and the potential is huge. Coffee grounds won’t be going into general waste so that reduces the amount of waste we produce, which reduces the number of trucks having to come on site to remove it and that reduces our waste management costs. Then on the other side we are creating our own compost for our planting programme so we are not buying in as much compost which also has positive financial benefits.”