NHS report reveals environmental impact of UK care homes

The residential care sector accounts for at least 3.4m tonnes of CO2 each year and almost £1.1bn in natural resource costs, according to an NHS report.

The report, which gathers data from 2008/09, explains that the social cost of carbon is adding a further £76m per year.

In 2008/9 energy use in residential homes accounted for around £468.5m in utility costs and around 2.3m tonnes of CO2. This is the same carbon footprint as the country of Eritrea and represents 0.42% of the 2009 UK carbon footprint.

The report also claims that in 2008/9 residential homes accounted for around £505m in food costs generating around 622,250 tonnes of CO2, while annual pharmacy waste from UK care homes amounted to around £49m and up to 28,764 tonnes of CO2.

From the four case study homes reviewed by the NHS, potential energy use savings were identified that could cut consumption and bills by an average of 11%.

The report added: “If equivalent savings were realised nationally, this could save £52.8m in energy costs and 220,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

“To put these figures in perspective 220,000 tonnes [of CO2] per year is the same as the entire annual 2003 carbon footprint of the Sechelles”.

“Sustainable care homes are becoming an increasingly important area. The UK has a growing older population, increasing natural resource costs and a requirement through the climate change act to cut CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050”.

Leigh Stringer

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