An initiative to reduce environmental impact has won one of the UK’s leading animal hospitals a silver award for sustainability

The impressive drive our North Downs Specialist Referrals (NDSR) service in Bletchingley, Surrey, has been duly recognised by national accreditation scheme Investors in the Environment (iiE).

NDSR has set up a dedicated ‘green group’ and introduced a whole range of changes to earn the recognition from iiE, which has teamed up with Linnaeus in a unique partnership that sees up to 50 per cent of the vet group’s practices taking part in its accreditation scheme.

To achieve the prestigious silver award, the NDSR group led the way on implementing a range of changes from ceasing the use of nitrous oxide for anaesthesia to switching to plastic free tea bags in a bid to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint.

European specialist in small animal surgery Nicola Kulendra, who is spearheading the NDSR scheme, said: “To realise this amazing achievement, we created a team of environmental enthusiasts who meet on a regular basis to work out how to reduce the carbon footprint of our practice.

“We have introduced a raft of changes, some major and some minor, to transform the way we work and the way we care for the environment.

“First and foremost, NDSR is proud to say we no longer use nitrous oxide as part of our anaesthetic regime. We have also started a lower flow anaesthesia practice to reduce the amount of sevoflurane and isoflurane (which are greenhouse gases) across the hospital.

“Our anaesthetists have also given CPD training to referring vets to help them reduce their anaesthetic gas, as well as nitrous oxide, usage.

“Other new measures at NDSR include switching to cloth scrub hats in theatre, using Terracycle to recycle our crisp packets, pens and pet food sachets, while we have also introduced food waste bins.

“Our computers have been programmed to switch off automatically, we’ve switched to plastic free tea bags, purchased more dairy free milk and bought a bike pump and repair kit to encourage cycling to work!

“We now ensure all our paper is Forest Stewardship Council and we’re actively supporting the Linnaeus ‘Paws to Turn Off’ campaign, which urges team members to switch off lights.

“We’re keen to go further and have drawn up a carbon footprint of the practice which reveals our biggest problems are our use of electricity and the waste we generate.

“Future ideas include the creation of a bee and butterfly friendly garden, switching all lights to LEDs, Terracycling all PPE including non-contaminated gloves, aprons and mask and installing electric car charging points.”

Ellie West, environmental sustainability lead at Linnaeus, said: “I’m delighted to see NDSR receive this award.

“Linnaeus has a strong focus on quality of care and this extends to being a sustainable business and fulfilling our commitments to our clients, Associates and communities.

“I am so excited to be leading this ambitious sustainability agenda, which will work to deliver a better future for everyone and we’re over the moon to see another of our Associates in NDSR really achieving excellence.”

April Sotomayor, from iiE, said: “Congratulations to NDSR on achieving this silver award for its work on reducing its environmental impact and engaging its staff with some fantastic waste and carbon reduction initiatives, in particular.

“This shows a clear determination to prioritise its sustainability efforts in line with our independent accreditation scheme and we’re excited to see them go even further in the future.”

For more information on North Downs Specialist Referrals, visit search for NDSR on social media.

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