The journey to net zero

Stockport NHS Foundation Trust’s Green Plan has been officially ratified at the trust’s most recent board meeting

The trust runs Stepping Hill Hospital, as well as NHS services across Stockport.
The 22-page green plan sets out a commitment to protecting the environment, in its capacity as a large local organisation, as well as its capacity to look after and improve health for local people.
The plan holds the trust to targets to reduce its carbon emissions and their impact on the environment.
The foreword to the plan, by chair Professor Tony Warne and chief executive Karen James OBE states: “Stockport NHS Foundation Trust provides hospital care for children and adults across Stockport and the High Peak, as well as community health services across Stockport. We care about our patients and their families, the communities we serve and the environment. We recognise the impact that our clinical activities have on climate change and are committed to the net zero ambitions of the NHS.
“Our Green Plan sets out our aims and commitment to improve the environment for our communities and become a sustainable healthcare provider. Through this plan, we will reduce our carbon emissions; reduce landfill waste and improve local air quality. Together, we will work with local partners to create a better environment for our patients and community.”
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust’s Green Plan runs in line with the Trust’s objective to support the health and wellbeing of the local communities and utilise resources in an efficient and effective manner. The Green Plan lists the progress and future actions required to reduce the Trust’s impact on the environment, while at the same time addressing the climate emergency.

Ambition and objectives
The trust has an ambition for the emissions it controls to be net zero by 2040 and for an 80 per cent reduction compared to a 2012/13 baseline by 2032. For other emissions that the trust can influence, net zero should be reached by 2045, with an 80 per cent reduction by 2039.
Steps that have already been taken include the introduction of four new electric vans, which are transporting goods including prescriptions, post and pathology samples to and from the hospital. There are also new charge points for visitor and staff electric vehicles. There have also been new recycling stations installed around the hospital site.
The Trust Strategy 2020-2025 had as one of its five strategic objectives: “investing in our future by using our resources well” and the green plan is linked to this.

NHS goals
The NHS Delivering a net zero National Health Service has its own ambitions, including developing a low carbon organisation and workforce; reducing the carbon footprint; developing lower carbon care models; reducing local air pollution through sustainable transport; and reducing waste and moving to zero landfill.
Other NHS ambitions include reducing water use and including sustainable drainage solutions for new builds; lower carbon procurement and catering, including action to reduce single use plastics; and sustainable building design and climate change adaptation.
Stockport’s Green Plan has also taken these ambitions into account and the trust commits to: reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2032; a net zero carbon footprint by 2040; all trust vehicles to be ultra-low or zero emission; and a 75 per cent cut in business travel emissions by 2030. Other ambitions include zero waste to landfill; phasing out single use plastics in catering and purchasing to take account of social value weighting.

Recognising that they are the largest provider of healthcare and one of the largest employers in Stockport, the trust aims to reduce local air pollution by expanding low carbon models of care, investing in low carbon vehicles, encouraging lower carbon options for travel and minimising emissions from operations.
The trust also recognises that acute trusts are part of a wider system of health and care and must work together with others to deliver for local people. This includes nationally with the National Health Service, and locally with the Greater Manchester Integrated Care System and devolution project and ONE Stockport.

In acknowledging the achievements so far, the trust has reduced its carbon footprint by 26.1 per cent since 2013 and waste output has reduced by 18 per cent.
To achieve this, projects have been implemented to reduce building energy, such as investing over £600,000 in LED lighting upgrades in 2019-2021; installing cost effective duplex stainless steel plate heat exchangers to improve energy efficiency and minimise waste water pollution and reducing mechanical ventilation by improving airflow and natural ventilation through the installation of new windows. Other measures include increasing insulation of roof spaces and exposed pipe work and valves; a boiler replacement programme; voltage optimisation; and use of an intelligent building management system to support heating control optimisation.
The trust also aims to reduce local air pollution, taking into account the size and impact of its fleet. Plans are underway to replace current vehicles with an electric fleet.
Recycling drop-off points and the separation of cardboard, scrap metals, furniture and electrical waste, and improvements to waste compactors, collection bins and holding areas, have contributed to improved recycling. Total waste tonnage has reduced from 1197 tonnes in 2012/13 to 981 tonnes in 2021 – a reduction of 18 per cent.
Single-use plastics have been removed from retail outlets and take-away items are all recyclable.
Paul Featherstone, director of estates for Stockport NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are the second largest employer in Stockport, and we are committed to improving the health of our local population, both of which make tackling climate change and other environmental threats vital. Our new Green Plan sets out a very clear set of goals which we intend to meet so we can live up to this responsibility. We’ve already made a positive start, and we intend to build on these achievements in the coming years to make sure we’re looking after both the local and the global environment. ”
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust’s Green Plan is detailed, well thought out and well planned. It is likely that targeted implementation of this plan will reduce the waste and carbon emissions of the trust and therefore improve the lives of the local community and patient care.