CleanMed Europe 2016 Focuses on Food, Pharma

By practice greenhealth staff on January 19, 2017

Two hundred fifty participants from 26 countries and five continents convened during CleanMed Europe 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Oct. 19–21, to discuss and plan strategies around sustainable health care, including signing a major pledge focused on sustainable and healthy food in health care and launching a campaign for the reduction of the environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals.

During the first-ever European Workshop on Sustainable and Healthy Food in health care hosted by the Gentofte Hospital in Copenhagen, Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe launched its Healthy and Sustainable Food in Healthcare Pledge ( and invited hospitals across the continent to join in implementing sustainable and healthy food policies, including preventing and reducing food waste, at their facilities.

HCWH Europe’s Healthy and Sustainable Food in Healthcare Pledge is modeled on HCWH US & Canada’s Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge (, which started 10 years ago and has been supported by more than 500 hospitals and health care facilities across the United States and Canada.

By signing the pledge, European hospitals commit to:

  • Improve the quality of the food they serve by procuring fresh, local, seasonal and organic food, as much as possible, to patients, staff and visitors.
  • Offer more plant-derived food.
  • Shorten the supply chain and strengthen the local economy.
  • Prevent and decrease food waste and explore other alternatives.
  • Raise awareness among health care professionals, patients and communities about the link between healthy and sustainable food in order to ensure a more resilient food system.
  • Influence and engage other actors to work toward better standards of food procurement while promoting healthy and sustainable habits and practices within and outside the health care sector.
  • HCWH Europe also announced the launch of its new Safer Pharma campaign (, which aims to:
  • Challenge the pharmaceutical industry to take action to reduce its environmental impacts.
  • Raise awareness among health care professionals about the problems associated with pharmaceuticals in the environment and let them know what they can do to help.
  • Help citizens to understand what they can do to minimize pharmaceuticals in the environment.

There are approximately 3,000 active pharmaceutical ingredients available on the EU market1, and each year in the U.K. alone, an estimated £300 million (around $374 million) worth of dispensed medicines go unused and are ultimately discarded.2 From 30 to 90 percent of an oral dose of medicine can be excreted as an active substance in urine.3

The first action of the Safer Pharma campaign is a petition open to the public that encourages the public to pressure the European Commission (EC) to develop a plan to deal with the issue of pharmaceutical pollution in the environment.

By law 4, the EC had to “develop a strategic approach to pollution of water by pharmaceutical substances” by Sept. 13, 2015. More than a year later, no action has been taken.


  1. Study on the environmental risks of medicinal products, 2013 (
  2. “Evaluation of the Scale, Causes and Costs of Waste Medicines” (
  3. Study on the environmental risks of medicinal products, 2013 (
  4. Directive 2013/39/EU (