Article 18 June 2021

We’re cutting carbon from the menu at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

From growing the crops and feeding the cattle through to packaging, transporting and throwing away waste, food-related emissions are estimated to account for over one third of the world’s greenhouse emissions1. To try to help minimise this impact, we’ve worked with our food partner apetito, to launch a new low carbon emissions menu for patients at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which will help save up to 23 tonnes of CO2 every year.

The menu includes three different hot meal options for patients to choose from for each lunch and dinner. There’s a great variety for patients and the new menu prioritises ingredients with a lower carbon footprint, including poultry, fish and vegan options, to limit the impact on the environment. Assuming all options in the menu are equally popular with patients, a reduction of just 3 meat options a fortnight will save the equivalent to over 34 return flights from London to New York a year2, demonstrating that even small changes can have a significant impact on the environment, while still giving patients plenty of choice.

As well as saving carbon emissions, the menu has been reviewed by ours and the hospitals’ dietitians to make sure it continues to meet all the British Dietetic Association Standards and provides balanced and healthy meals. This includes offering patients gluten free, easy to chew and low fat or low sodium options for people with special dietary requirements.

Every menu will also provide patients with information about the nutritional benefits of some ingredients, such as lentils and chicken, as well as their carbon footprint, to help patients identify options that are both healthy and environmentally friendly.

All meal orders are made through our specialist patient catering app, so that the right number of plates are prepared, meaning less meals are thrown away and helping to further reduce the impact on the environment. All the food waste generated is sent to anaerobic digestion plants where it is transformed into compost for gardens and farms as well as biogas to help heat homes and businesses.

Following the roll-out of the new low carbon menu at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, we’re looking to offer reduced CO2 meal options to our other NHS customers. With catering services accounting for around 6% of the NHS’s carbon emissions3, these efforts will play a key role in the NHS objective of becoming net zero by 2040.

Alice Woodwark, Managing Director, Communities, 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.”

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

“This is a significant commitment to delivering the overall green plan at St. George’s as well as national and NHS net zero carbon targets, while supporting an even more sustainable food service for our patients. We’re so pleased this has been a successful collaboration with all our partners and Trust teams and it shows what can be done in the NHS – an amazing achievement and we’re very proud to be one of the first NHS Trusts to lead the way.”

Lee Sheppard, Director of Corporate Affairs and Policy, apetito, said: “We are committed to supporting our partners and the NHS to deliver Net Zero, whilst delivering an appealing and nutritious menu to patients. We are extremely proud to be at the forefront of delivering reduced carbon menus to the NHS and will continue innovating to help address the climate crisis.”

  1.  Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Food systems account for more than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions
  2. Based on an economy-class return flight from London to New York, emitting an estimated 0.67 tonnes of CO2 per passenger. BBC News, Climate change: Should you fly, drive or take the train?
  3. NHS, Delivering a ‘Net Zero’ National Health Service