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The National Health Service has announced its plan to reach Net Zero by 2045, an ambitious but reasonable aim.
To reach Net Zero, the NHS will have to reduce its emissions through vehicle upgrades and equipment changes, but one influence it will be focusing on the most is its handling of waste. As Bywaters recently released our own Net Zero plan, we’ve read through this strategy release for you to give a breakdown of how they plan on achieving such.

What is the NHS’ Net Zero goal

The NHS is the UK’s largest employer, with over 1.3 million staff, and is responsible for around 4% of the country’s total carbon footprint. The health service plans to achieve Net Zero by reducing its carbon footprint and offsetting the remaining emissions. The health service says it will reduce its emissions by 80% from 2028 to 2032 and offset any remaining emissions through carbon sequestration schemes. In addition, the NHS will work with suppliers, patients, and the public to further reduce emissions across the health sector.

Waste management and the NHS’ plan to reduce plastic

“Good progress has already been made in using resources more efficiently. Over 1.4% of supply chain emissions are due to single-use devices, some of which could be refurbished and reused, saving the NHS both carbon and money.”

The report repeatedly points towards the NHS taking on the approach of the recently popular circular economy. Bywaters also uses this method to reuse or repurpose items more frequently. Of course, there are bits and pieces this won’t be possible with when referring to medical equipment. However, The NHS is made up of plenty more; there’s a world of office furniture, admin assets and other resources traditionally thrown away sooner than needed.

How suppliers will help the NHS reach Net Zero

The NHS is also working towards this goal by engaging with its suppliers and encouraging them to decarbonise their operations. 27 contractors have voluntarily shared their carbon reduction plans through the NHS Supplier Engagement Programme. This early pilot has successfully driven significant reductions in carbon emissions, and it is hoped that more will join in the future.

Before the decade’s end, the NHS will commit to only purchasing from suppliers committed to a detailed Net Zero plan, such as Bywaters. This will be an essential component of future strategies, delivering estimated reductions of 9,446 ktCO2e per year. This commitment will help the NHS to achieve its goal of becoming a carbon-neutral organisation and consequently play a leading role in tackling climate change. In addition to reducing its emissions, the NHS will also help to drive broader progress towards net zero by demonstrating to other organisations the benefits of decarbonisation.

The challenge the NHS will face reaching Net Zero

A new study has found that a circular economy approach could help the NHS to meet its emissions targets. The research published by the Centre for Circular Economy at Exeter University and by electronics firm Philips UK & Ireland found that historically, the NHS has reduced emissions by just 1% each year. However, annual reductions will need to hit 8% if the 2040 net-zero target is to be delivered. The study’s authors say that a circular economy approach could help to accelerate progress by reducing waste, increasing recycling, and making better use of resources. They add that such an approach would also have health benefits, reducing air pollution and improving public health. The study’s findings suggest that a circular economy could play a key role in helping the NHS to meet its ambitious emissions targets.

How will waste management play into the NHS’ Net Zero strategy

The NHS have a strong history of partnering with waste management companies dedicated to sustainability. To reduce the emissions caused by health trusts around the country, the NHS will need to continue its partnerships with facilities that repurpose, reuse, or recycle waste instead of sending them to landfills. With recent global changes such as the Covid outbreak, it’s also essential that they partner with organisations that can work with them and not just for them.

Waste management will play a critical role in the success of the plan. To reduce the environmental impact and improve efficiency, it is essential to have a well-organised system for managing waste. This system should include both recycling and disposal methods that are safe and effective. Furthermore, it is necessary to educate people on the importance of waste management and how they can help to reduce waste. Having a solid waste management plan in place, the NHS can ensure that the project successfully achieves its goals.

Benefits of going Net Zero for the NHS and the Environment

There are many benefits to achieving net zero waste. It can lead to cost savings for NHS organisations through reduced disposal fees and improved resource efficiency. It can also help to create a more sustainable and circular economy. For the environment, net zero waste helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural resources. In addition, it can help to create jobs in the green economy and improve local air quality. Achieving net zero is a significant challenge but essential for protecting our planet and ensuring a sustainable future for all.

The goal is ambitious, but there are many ways that waste management can play into its success. By reducing the amount of waste produced and recycling or composting what remains, NHS can divert materials from landfills and achieve its goal. There are challenges ahead for NHS in terms of meeting this goal, but with careful planning and execution, the benefits will be felt by both the organisation and the environment. What do you think? Is your business ready to go net zero on waste management?
To better understand how your organisation can go Net Zero, here are some recent strategy’s from sustainable businesses:




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