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About the award

The Environmental Sustainability Health Award is a new award that recognises the achievements of our health system and workforce to reduce our environmental footprint, whilst continuing to deliver high quality healthcare and patient experience.

The Environmental Sustainability Award acknowledges programs, initiatives, and projects which promote:

  • healthier, greener buildings and spaces
  • sustainable management of energy, water, waste, and other resources
  • a focus on value-based healthcare to reduce harms and risks for patients and the carbon costs of low-value care
  • strengthening and developing low-carbon models of care
  • use of technology to facilitate high quality, low carbon care
  • establishing sustainable procurement processes
  • educating and engaging staff about environmental sustainability.

Winner – Sustainable Healthcare Together Towards Zero 2030

Hunter New England Local Health District


The 'Sustainable Healthcare Together Towards Zero 2023' project is sector transforming. It outlines the strategy to achieve carbon and waste neutrality by 2030. This is a first for any Health Service in Australia. Healthcare is responsible for 7% of Australia's Co2 emissions. Hunter New England Local Health District saw an opportunity to make a significant impact and lead by example.

The strategy was launched in February 2021 and focuses on six areas; Energy, Waste, Water, Transport, Procurement, and Infrastructure. Annual targets have been set for each of the six areas.

In the first two years, they have delivered:

  • A reduction in Co2 emissions by 24%
  • The capture and recycling of 29% of all rainwater that lands on a Hunter New England roof
  • The reduction of water usage by 23%
  • The diversion of 14% of general waste from landfill
  • Recurrent savings of $2.2 million
  • 30 staff led Sustainability Action Groups delivering local initiatives
  • The world's largest health solar installation at the John Hunter Hospital
  • Securing $49.8M of non-HNE funding, being invested into sustainability initiatives
  • A myriad of public and private strategic partnerships, and innovative pilot projects
  • 2021 NSW Banksia Award "Net Zero" Winners
  • 2022 NSW Treasury Sustainability Advantage Bronze Award winner

Finalist – Reducing Anaesthetic Greenhouse Gases

Northern Sydney Local Health District


Healthcare in Australia is responsible for approximately 7% of the country's carbon emissions. Within healthcare, the use of anaesthetic gases contribute to more than 5% of these emissions. One gas, desflurane, has a global warming potential that is almost 7000 times greater than carbon dioxide. Nitrous oxide (N20) is another potent greenhouse gas emitted during anaesthesia.

The goal is to reduce the carbon emissions from anaesthesia while delivering safe, high-quality healthcare.

A multi-faceted program was implemented to reduce the perioperative carbon footprint. One area worked to reduce desflurane use in favour of alternative, less expensive anaesthetic gases or techniques. This program involved educating staff, practice changes, and audits. This initiative first launched at Royal North Shore Hospital and then was extended across the District. Two 'Net Zero Leads for Anaesthesia' were recently appointed to lead further work, including reducing N20 waste.

The project has significantly reduced the use of desflurane. A year-on-year comparison saw desflurane use decrease from 35 bottles per month, to only 4 bottles in a year. A similar decrease was seen in CO2 equivalent emissions from a baseline of 1321 tonnes to 0.75 tonnes over the last financial year.

In the last financial year, a direct cost saving of $344,087 and a global social cost saving of $105,048 was calculated. This adds to significant savings already made from previous years.

Finalist – Waste Action Reuse Portal

South Western Sydney Local Health District


The Waste Action Reuse Portal (WARPIT) is a program by South Western Sydney Local Health District. In the two years since the project began, they have repurposed $53,000 worth of assets within the District, and diverted more than 65 tonnes of waste from landfill.

The program works by allowing staff to list items that are no longer in use for other staff to claim. Items are then displayed in a similar way to e-bay, making it easy for staff across the District to browse items available for reuse.

Equipment reused and repurposed through the WARPIT system benefits patients through the organisations which receive the donations. Local Women's Health Clinics have been able to refurbish their office space with furniture worth more than $9000, including sofas, chairs, tables and whiteboards. They also took linen and blankets, which were passed on to customers or used in sewing projects. Similarly, a spare fridge worth $400 was donated to a support service for use by a domestic violence victim.

WARPIT has also assisted in streamlining of donations, including useable medical equipment no longer needed by our hospitals and services. South Western Sydney Local Health District has used the site to facilitate more than $217,000, of medical assets to a charity group for redistribution to developing countries.

Honourable Mention – Queanbeyan Hotel Services Food Waste Project

Southern NSW Local Health District


The Queanbeyan Health Service Hotel Services team has played a vital role in lowering the environmental impact of their Local Health District. This has been achieved through better waste management. Previously, all food waste from the hospital went to landfill. Landfill produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

They recognised an opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint by diverting food waste. Environmental Sustainability Manager, Josie Grenfell, engaged Goterra, their local sustainable waste management company for this project. The day-to-day practice of organic waste collection and diversion has been tirelessly managed by the dedicated Hotel Services Team. They sort and collect the organic waste into biobags before the team at Goterra collect and repurpose it. This is then fed to black soldier flies which break down the organic waste and turn it into sustainable animal feed and fertiliser.

The entire recycling process is carried out locally and goes on to improve soils and gardens. This initiative creates a high value product from waste that would otherwise head to landfill. Since 2018, the team has stopped over 8,000 kgs of organic waste going to landfill. This equates to over 14,000 kg of C02 greenhouse gasses saved.


Current as at: Tuesday 24 October 2023
Contact page owner: NSW Health