More sustainability in the care sector

Healthcare institutions and hospitals use a lot of energy, food and raw materials in caring for patients. In doing so, they add to the pressure on the environment. The Green Deal on Sustainable Healthcare sets out agreements to reduce the sector’s impact on the environment, by cutting carbon emissions, for instance.

Green Deal on Sustainable Healthcare

Healthcare institutions, government authorities and companies have set out agreements for a healthy future in the Green Deal on Sustainable Healthcare. The aim is to ensure that healthcare not only benefits people, but also the planet and society in general. And doesn’t cause more pollution or health problems.

An ageing population means that more and more people are receiving care. Healthcare is using more and more state-of-the-art technology and medicines, but this sometimes leads to more pollution. Hospitals and other care institutions that have signed the Green Deal pledge to do their best to minimise the waste they produce and to use less energy by better insulating their buildings.

Agreements set out in the Green Deal on Sustainable Healthcare

More than 200 parties have signed the Green Deal. Each one has its own goals, but they are all based on the following four targets:

  • A 49% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030
    Care organisations will strive for energy-efficient buildings, transport and procurement, and aim to use renewable energy. By 2030, carbon emissions must be at least 49% lower than they were in 1990. By 2050 all care organisations must be carbon-neutral. These goals are the same as the ones set out in the National Climate Agreement. Care organisations can use roadmaps to show how they’re going to reduce emissions. One way is by reducing the amount of energy used by hospitals and institutions for residential care. Hospitals and residential care institutions each have their own roadmap.
  • Socially and environmentally responsible procurement
    Care institutions want to minimise raw materials waste. This means looking at the potential to reuse and recycle raw materials when buying products like food, medicines, medical devices and uniforms. This is called circular procurement. Care institutions also want to buy products that are made with respect for the environment and society. This means, for instance, that products have been made in good working conditions. Other ways institutions are becoming more socially and environmentally responsible include offering staff alternative working arrangements and combating food waste.
  • Fewer pharmaceutical residues in drinking water
    Where possible the care sector will work to prevent pharmaceutical residues ending up in sewers and then in rivers and other waterways. For instance by experimenting with water filtration systems, enabling people to hand in unused medicines at pharmacies and having people on certain medications collect their urine in special bags.
  • A healthy environment for care workers and patients
    Care institutions like care homes and hospitals are paying more attention to ensuring a healthy living and working environment. Like giving both patients and staff more opportunities for exercise and relaxation, as well as creating on-site gardens for more greenery. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) is gathering expertise about healthy environments in the care sector.

Roles of Green Deal partners

The Sustainable Care programme brings together central government, sector associations, care providers and sustainable care ambassadors. All of them have a different role to play in making the care sector more sustainable.

Central government

Central government works to bring different parties together, so they can learn from one another and make clear agreements. It also plays a role in the Green Deal by helping remove obstacles to sustainability for care institutions.

The Sustainable Care project team at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport issues a sustainable care newsletter with programme updates. The project team also organises events, such as the annual conference on sustainable care, which takes place in October. You can contact the project team by emailing or through Twitter (@duurzamezorg).

Sector associations

Care providers are usually affiliated with one or more sector associations. These are working to make their members aware of the importance of sustainability. They’re also establishing working groups in which care providers can work together. And they’re supporting care institutions by sharing knowledge and best practices.

Care providers

The care providers that have signed up to the Green Deal are drawing attention to the steps they’re taking on sustainable care. By using sustainability labels to show that their buildings or operational management processes are sustainable, for instance. Or by sharing best practices with other institutions.

Sustainable care ambassadors

More and more people in the care sector are signing up to be sustainable care ambassadors. They lead the way forward and help promote the ideas set out in the Green Deal on Sustainable Healthcare.