Green Impact Dentistry recognises UK dental practices with green award
We are excited to present the 2023 Green Impact Dentistry Awards!
In 2023, over 180 Dental Practice teams registered to take part in the new Green Impact Dentistry programme, in order to take positive action for sustainability, and encourage behaviour change within their practice and communities. Dental practices across the UK are responding to the climate and ecological crisis and are recognising the part dentistry plays in the climate crisis. With 17 practices receiving a 2023 award, and over 2600 positive sustainability actions completed in the very first full year of the programme, it sets the precedence for positive action for climate change in the dental sector.
What is Green Impact Dentistry?
Funded in 2023 by the NHS Healthier Futures Action Fund, the Green Impact Dentistry Programme is a sustainability learning, behavioural change, and awards scheme, designed with dentistry and sustainability experts. It provides practical advice and tips to dental teams across the UK that want to improve their sustainability and social responsibility, by guiding them to strategically embed sustainability throughout their practice, through themed actions contained within a unique toolkit, underpinned by the latest research. It is delivered by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK – a registered charity) supported by the Office of the Chief Dental Officer, championed by the East of England Greener NHS team and co-created with leading academics such as Dr Brett Duane. Green Impact Dentistry arises somewhat from the success of the RCGP funded Green Impact for Health Programme, another one of our many successful Green Impact programmes, which run across a variety of sectors and settings across the UK and internationally.
The climate and ecological crises pose a major threat to human health and wellbeing including oral health and care, and therefore the intersectionality between sustainability and dental care is important to highlight. The free-to-access Green Impact Dentistry toolkit enables dental teams in the UK to understand what and how they can do to make sustainable choices and decision to mitigate the impacts of the climate and ecological emergency. It also inspires behavioural change within dental settings through a well-structured, bespoke, and supportive programme. The toolkit explains the reasoning behind every suggested action, and provides tips on how to implement suggested changes to ensure all actions are effective, engaging, easily-accessible, impactful, and relevant. It also flags low cost and rapidly implementable actions, ensuring there are no barriers for dental teams to jump right in and get started.
The NHS is responsible for 4-5% of the UK’s carbon footprint however about 40 per cent of this comes from non-clinical activities, therefore the toolkit is a key resource for helping both NHS and non-NHS dental practices to reduce harmful impacts on planetary health, adapt to the risks of climate change, reduce practice expenses and work towards a low carbon and sustainable healthcare system of which dentistry plays a key role in the journey of.
Green Impact Dentistry teams are being led by over 370 people, and a reach of over 700,000 patients through these teams. As climate change is a key topic for many patients and staff, participation from teams strongly demonstrates commitment, contribution and progress from the dentistry sector.
In October 2020, the NHS became the world’s first health service to commit to reaching carbon net zero, and in 2022 became the first health system to embed net zero into legislation, through the Health and Care Act 2022. Dental practices as a key element of primary care, must play a strong role in ensuring the realisation of the ambitious net zero national healthcare targets in the journey to sustainable healthcare.
2023 Programme Impact
Currently, there are 195 dental teams registered on the Toolkit with over 370 team members, and a potential to reach more than 703,000 patients. Together, these practices have completed over 2600 actions in 2023 alone. Following the 2023 Autumn Award submission deadline, we trained 17 student auditors to complete the practice submission auditing process and verify the actions and evidence practice teams submitted. This greatly added to the social value and impact of the programme, and provided many students with a unique training and development opportunity to learn how to conduct environmental audits, and provided them a chance to understand sustainability in practice and engage with this through an IEMA approved training programme. See the map of who is taking part here!
Here’s what some of our Green Impact Dentistry Auditors had to say :
“The practice has done amazing work. Not only have they made high-quality changes, the scale and amount of work is very impressive. I particularly admire their role as trail-blazers for the area. By being among the first practices to take part, they are leading by example, showing the positive effects of working with Green Impact and encouraging other practices to participate, I ended up really enjoying it.”
“As an auditor for Green Impact Dentistry, the experience was insightful and rewarding. Assessing sustainability practices within the dental context highlighted the team's dedication to eco-friendly initiatives. Witnessing their commitment to green practices and the positive impact on dental operations was impressive. It was a valuable experience contributing to sustainability efforts in the dental field.”
“I think Green Impact are doing incredible work and I have felt really fortunate and empowered after speaking to people who are taking real steps towards greener practice. I loved being involved and talking to people that are having a real impact on changes to clinical practice. It has inspired me to get involved!”
“This is my third audit. All three experiences have been very different, I am very glad to have taken part in Green Impact, it’s been very insightful and rewarding.”
Consequently, we conferred 9 Bronze awards, 4 Silver awards, and 4 Gold awards. Many practices also received a Pioneer (working towards accrditation) recognition award.
- Alec Waugh Newcastle upon Tyne: Bronze
- Brandhall: Bronze
- Bucks/MK Community Dental Services : Bronze
- Centennium House: Gold
- Chapeltown Dental Care, Sheffield: Bronze
- Community Dental Service: Gold
- Credence Dental Care Ltd, Swindon: Silver
- Dental HealthCare Cambridge: Bronze
- Dental HealthCare Peterborough: Bronze
- Dental HealthCare Suffolk: Bronze
- Ivory Dental Care Park Road: Silver
- Lymm Dental Care: Bronze
- Meir Heath: Bronze
- Ortho & MaxFacs MKUH: Gold
- Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust – Dental: Silver
- Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise (All Sites): Silver
- St Agnes Dental Practice: Gold
Massive congratulations to all dental teams for their hard work throughout 2023 and thank you for taking part in Green Impact and contributing to a more just, equitable, and sustainable dentistry system. As Dental Practices are a key part of the journey to sustainable healthcare, it’s exceptionally important that they champion important sustainability and social justice issues and provide more sustainable and just care for their patients and the local community.
The toolkit actions are well aligned with ICS Green Plans, NHS Net Zero ambitions, and UK Climate Change Act targets and meaningfully contribute to global sustainability efforts. The 166 actions focus on many themes within sustainability such as travel, waste, water and energy use, health and wellbeing, education, amalgam and restorations, biodiversity, food, procurement, paper, plastic, decontamination, data, PPE, strategy and policy building, charity and citizenship, and others. Healthy competition is also encouraged using the ‘Top ten teams’ leaderboard display on the toolkit.
What are the benefits for dental teams?
The toolkit provides numerous benefits to dental teams such as:
- Increased environmental sustainability
- Cost savings
- Improved staff morale, learning, and efficiency
- Contributing meaningfully towards ICB Green Plans and NHS Net Zero Ambitions
- Supporting the UK Climate Change Act Targets
- Enabling practices to deliver more sustainable quality dental care to patients
There is also ongoing support provided to registered practices throughout the year via a monthly newsletters and webinar series that covers a range of sustainability topics and enables participants to learn, share ideas and network.
The Green Impact model has been used in healthcare since 2011, and dentistry since the East of England pilot in 2019, and has been supporting teams of healthcare staff to learn and lead for sustainability in their area of work. Thanks to Greener NHS funding, Green Impact Dentistry will continue in 2024 and remain free-to-access for any UK dental practice. With this funding, we hope to grow our reach and impact across the sector! To get involved in 2024, and for more information about the Green Impact Dentistry Programme, please get in touch with email@example.com.