Sustainable Healthcare News August 2021

Welcome to our latest Sustainable Healthcare newsletter. We hope the information shared here assists you in your efforts to make our healthcare system more environmentally sustainable and resilient.

In this newsletter:

  • GGHH News
  • Sustainable healthcare news
  • Education and Events
  • Advocacy
  • Reports, resources and research


Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) membership in the Pacific Region (Australia and New Zealand) has now reached 112 members! Together these members represent over 2,000 hospitals and health services. More and more health institutions are working to improve their environmental footprint, and protect environmental and human health. They're also realising that it makes sense to do this together through the (free) GGHH network.

You can view a list of GGHH members in the Pacific region here.

If you would like to join the GGHH network or find out more, visit the website or email [email protected] 


Greening the Healthcare Sector Forum - Call for abstracts now open
30 Nov 2021, Brisbane and Online

CAHA/GGHH Pacific is partnering with UnitingCare Queensland to deliver this year's Greening the Healthcare Sector Forum.  Host partner Metro North Health is providing the venue for the Forum at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Education Centre.

This year’s theme is ‘Working towards a net zero emissions, climate resilient, equitable and environmentally sustainable healthcare sector: ensuring good health for all’.  This Forum is for anyone interested in improving the environmental footprint of healthcare (including aged care) and fostering a healthy future for people and the planet. The call for abstracts is open until COB 16 September, with abstracts sought under the following topics:

  • Powering healthcare with 100% clean, renewable energy
  • Tackling scope 3 (supply chain) emissions
  • Providing healthy, sustainable food services in healthcare
  • Implementing circular health care and sustainable health care waste management
  • Establishing greater health system effectiveness
  • Improving climate resilience
  • Improving health equity

Read more about the Forum and abstract submissions on the website here.

Climate Impact Checkup: Carbon footprint tool for healthcare released

The Climate Impact Checkup, a tool to help health facilities calculate and track their greenhouse gas emissions, was released by Health Care Without Harm in July.  Please see the resources section below to find out how to access it.  


Sustainable Healthcare News 

 Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Environmental Sustainability Strategy 2021 - 2024 released


Sunshine Coast HHS have released their 2021 - 2024 Environmental Sustainability Strategy. The Strategy was developed in consultation with SCHHS staff and was launched internally at the SCHHS Environmental Sustainability Forum on 3 June. The Strategy has been developed in a poster format so it can be displayed throughout the health service to engage staff, patients and visitors. 

Read the SCHHS Environmental Sustainability Strategy here. Find a list of environmental sustainability plans and strategies from some GGHH Pacific region members on our website here.

Victorian Health Building Authority (VHBA) Sustainability in Healthcare Update July

The Victorian Health Building Authority (VHBA) produces a quarterly update to “inform health services on sustainability initiatives being implemented across the healthcare sector, as well as key sustainability issues of interest” in Victoria. The July sustainability update includes information about their:

  • Sustainability Performance Report
  • Climate change adaptation action plans
  • Public hospital LED and solar program 
  • and more

Access the update, as well as previous issues here 

ACSQHC draft Climate Risk Module development

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care is supportive of health service organisations who are developing climate risk plans and taking initiatives towards the delivery of environmentally sustainable health care. This module will be voluntary for health service organisations. The aim of the module is to support health services organisation’s to know their climate risks and develop strategies to mitigate climate risks, adapt systems and build resilience. 

Development of the Climate Risk Module will include a consultation process and there is currently an opportunity to provide feedback via a short survey. Read more, complete the survey and sign up for updates here.

Opinion Piece | Why Should Pain Researchers Consider Climate Change? 

In this op-ed by PHD student Guillaume Christe he discusses the need to start promoting low-carbon therapies which can provide co-benefits to the environment and can sometimes provide a larger health benefit.  By promoting physical or psychological interventions over surgical or pharmacological interventions where appropriate can have similar or increased benefits with a lower environmental footprint.  Such examples for pain management can include promoting active transport or the utilisation of green spaces. 

Read about it here

What is sustainable dentistry - and why is it important?

Coburg Hill Oral Care have outlined their strategies to improve their sustainability while providing oral care. These initiatives span across pre, during and post treatment which incorporate many areas of care such focusing on prevention and reducing the number of appointments by incorporating telehealth consults; to a focus on material use and waste management both in their facilities and at home. 

Read about it here


Education and Events


iDEA2021: Planet, Health and Hope, October 15th-17th, Online

Doctors for the Environment Australia will be hosting an online conference, iDEA 2021: Planet, Health and Hope.  This year’s conference will provide:

  • An honest appraisal of the climate crisis from scientific, medical, cultural and political perspectives. 
  • Have a focus on solutions: offering treatment pathways that offer ways to combat planetary health problems, as well as providing psychological approaches to support attendees. 
  • Education on health-based approaches, as well as solutions from other sectors— things like carbon drawdown technologies, engineering and legal solutions.

Find details and registration here

TRA2SHCON2021, 13 November, online

TRA2SH is an initiative led by Anaesthetic trainees with a mission to "stimulate a positive culture change in sustainable practices in anaesthesia by promoting curiosity amongst trainees, encouraging reflection and problem-solving within departments, whilst upholding the highest standards of patient care".  TRA2SH run projects, provide local sustainability project ideas (e.g. reducing desflurane use, reusing equipment), and provide resources. These are designed with Anaesthetic trainees in mind but anyone can participate and make use of their resources.

They are holding their first trainee convention this year “designed to be a collaborative, supportive and enthusiastic space to share your project - big or small - with others”. Admission is free and open to anyone. They are currently calling for presentation submissions, read more here.

Greening the Healthcare Sector Forum, 30 Nov 2021, Brisbane and online

As noted in the GGHH News section above, CAHA/GGHH Pacific is partnering with UnitingCare Queensland to deliver this year's Greening the Healthcare Sector Forum.  Host partner Metro North Health is providing the venue for the Forum at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Education Centre.

This year’s theme is ‘Working towards a net zero emissions, climate resilient, equitable and environmentally sustainable healthcare sector: ensuring good health for all’. The call for abstracts is open until 16th September. Read more on the Forum website here.

CleanMed Europe, 29 November – 3 December, online

CleanMed Europe, organised by Health Care Without Harm Europe, is Europe’s leading conference on sustainable healthcare. Read more, including their draft program here.

Register for updates here



Webinar recording | How to measure and reduce plastic in healthcare

Health Care Without Harm Europe organised a webinar to show how waste audits support a reduction of plastic use in healthcare and presented the tools needed to make a change in your own healthcare facility.  The webinar aims to:

  • Present the preliminary results of the Towards plastic-free healthcare project and showcase results from the plastic waste audits.
  • Increase participants’ understanding on the advantages of waste audits.
  • Inspire other hospitals and healthcare providers to consider waste audits as a way of assessing plastic use in their operations.

Listen to the full recording here 

Doctors for the Environment Australia: After Hours sessions 

Doctors for the Environment Australia are holding a monthly webinar series focusing on climate change and human health. 

The latest sessions include:

  • Session Five: Mental Health in a Time of Climate Crisis | July 22, 2021. Presented by Dr Grant Blashki.  Click here to access the recording.
  • Session Four: Women’s Health and Climate Change | June 17, 2021. Presented by Dr Kristine Barnden and Ana Navidad.  Click here to access the recording

Listen back to the full series here 



IPCC report: chance for doctors to take climate action

This article by Dr Kimberly Humphrey and Dr Emma-Leigh Synnott highlights the health impacts of climate change in light of the release of the 6th IPCC report and calls on doctors to demand climate action from our national leaders.

Read the article here.



Research, Resources and Reports


Sustainable food contact materials in the European healthcare sector

This report by Health Care Without Harm Europe, collates information on the health and environmental risks of commonly used food contact materials, including plastics, paper, board, and bio-based materials. It outlines challenges removing these materials, highlights some successful examples and provides recommendations. Read about it here

Pharmaceutical residues in hospital wastewater

This report also by Health Care Without Harm Europe, explores how hospital wastewater contributes to the pharmaceutical load released into the environment, features five case studies illustrating how European hospitals are dealing with pharmaceutical residues in their wastewater, and makes recommendations for moving forward.

Read about it here



Guide | Climate risk governance: What directors need to know

MinterEllison and the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) have released a plain-language guide to assist directors with their climate risk journey. The guide is “designed to aid directors in establishing good governance structures and meeting the challenges and opportunities that climate change risks present”.

Read more and access the guide here.

Healthy Futures | Green your workplace 

Healthy Futures (a network of health professionals, students & supporters organising to address climate change & related health issues) have compiled a range of sustainable healthcare resources, case studies and networks.  

Find them here

 Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments | Getting Started: A Guide for Nurses

The Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and Climate for Health have developed this guidance to help nurses reduce their climate impact, advocate and inspire others to act.

Read the document here 

HCWH | Climate Impact Checkup: Carbon footprint tool for healthcare released

The Climate Impact Checkup, developed by Healthcare Without Harm, helps health facilities calculate and track their greenhouse gas emissions.

The tool calculates the carbon footprint of health facilities from data collected on energy, transport, asthma inhalers, waste and gases relevant to the sector. Read more about the tool here.

The tool:

  • Provides a starting point to measure, manage, and support mitigation goals and action planning
  • Allows health facilities to benchmark their footprint against similar facilities in their country, region, and globally (provided a minimum of 3 health facilities of similar complexity have also submitted data to maintain confidentiality)
  • Provides graphics and reports to aid communication and reporting
  • Online and offline versions are available

Climate Impact Checkup is exclusively for GGHH members. Find out how your health institutions can become a GGHH member here or contact [email protected]

Return Unwanted Medicines - Resources for Pharmacists

RUM is a national, not-for-profit program that works to address safe disposal of medicines. Pharmacies involved provide a collection point for the community to return expired and unwanted medicines. There are a range of resources on their website here e.g. a flyer to include with patient scripts on how to safely dispose of medicines.



Environmental impacts of Australia's largest health system

Malik et al., Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Volume 169, June 2021, 105556

This study aims to provide a quantitative supply-chain assessment of the environmental impacts of the health system in Australia's largest state, New South Wales (NSW).  Findings show that the health system in Australia's largest state was responsible for 6.6% of the total estimated GHGEs in 2017, 4% of water use, and 8% of waste produced in the NSW economy. The results highlight the need for implementation of targeted policies to reduce not only the direct environmental impacts generated by health systems but also those from its supply chains that connect with many other economic sectors.

Read the abstract and access the article here.

Air pollution and the noncommunicable disease prevention agenda: opportunities for public health and environmental science

Eloise Howse et al 2021 Environ. Res. Lett. 16 065002

In 2019 it was estimated by the WHO that seven out of the 10 leading causes of death were from non-communicable diseases(NCD), specifically cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.  Air pollution is a major environmental risk factor contributing to chronic NCDs that should become the focus for public health professionals to reduce NCD prevalence.  This article outlines the opportunities for those in public health and environmental science to work together across three key areas to address air pollution, NCDs and climate change by

  • acknowledging the shared drivers, including corporate determinants; 
  • taking a 'co-benefits' approach to NCD prevention; and 
  • expanding prevention research and evaluation methods through investing in systems thinking and intersectoral, cross-disciplinary collaborations.

Read the open access article here.

Renewable energy use in Australian public hospitals

Burch, et al. (2021), Renewable energy use in Australian public hospitals. Med J Aust, 215: 160-163.e1 

This article examines the energy use of Australian Public hospitals between 2016 to 2019 finding only 2.3% of energy use was sourced from renewables, of which ¾ arose from the Queensland Health’s GreenPower purchase in 2018/19.  The authors outline strategies in which states and territories can increase renewable energy use through:

  1. State/territory net zero emissions and renewable energy targets need to be more uniform and stronger
  2. In order to achieve the emissions reductions targets required, health services need to transition to renewable electricity sources with a goal of moving towards power purchase agreements.  

The authors state that in order to reduce harm from climate change we must decouple hospital energy from contributing to climate change, by moving to renewable electricity, and get off gas.

Read the free preprint here

A systematic review of food waste audit methods in hospital foodservices: development of a consensus pathway food waste audit tool
Nathan Cook, et al., Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 2021

The aims of this systematic review were to: “(i) describe and critique the methodological features of waste audits used in hospital foodservice settings that measure aggregate food and food-related waste and (ii) develop a consensus tool for conducting a food waste audit in a hospital foodservice setting.”

Read the abstract here.



If you are interested in signing up your organisation to become a member of the Global Green and Health Hospitals Network, please click here to see more details about the program and how to join, or email [email protected]

This newsletter has been developed with the help of CAHA's Sustainable Healthcare volunteer Julia Read...

Julia is a Master of Environmental Health Science student at the University of Queensland, and has a strong interest in the health impacts of climate change and improving the sustainability of the health sector.  Julia has been providing general support for our sustainable healthcare program.

About CAHA

This newsletter is brought to you by the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA). CAHA is Australia's national peak body on climate and health, with the mission to build a powerful health sector movement for climate action.

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