The RCVS has updated its Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) with new environmental sustainability requirements, updates to current standards to incorporate sustainability and a new Environmental Sustainability Award.

The new changes are being introduced in the following phases:

  • The new Environmental Sustainability Award is available to apply for now, with assessments starting from January 2023
  • The social sustainability changes and other clarifications are effective immediately and will be assessed from October 2022
  • The new and amended Core Standards and General Practice level environmental sustainability standards will be effective from June 2023

The new Environmental Sustainability Award allows practices to demonstrate that they have embedded environmentally sustainable behaviours and are excelling with their sustainability goals.

The Award includes points for reducing waste, consolidating medicines orders and minimising drug wastage, and calculating the practice’s carbon footprint and setting reduction targets.

The changes and additions to the standards at Core Standards and General Practice level cover the sustainability of a wide range of practice areas, including requiring a sustainability policy, communicating sustainability achievements, and minimising anaesthetic gas usage.

As well as improving environmental sustainability, the new and amended standards also include requirements to help make practices more socially sustainable, through measures including increasing diversity and inclusion.      

The PSS has produced a list of resources to support veterinary practices with meeting the new environmental sustainability standards and implementing sustainable practices in general.

Mandisa Greene, Chair of the Practice Standards Group, said: “We want to assure PSS-accredited practices that the new standards won’t mean an overhaul of ways of working or result in expensive investment in resources.

"Instead, the standards explain ways that practices can increase their sustainability by putting in place new measures gradually over the next 12 months, in time for them becoming mandatory.

"As with all standards updates, the PSS team are always available to answer any questions that practices have and anyone who is unsure about how to apply them is encouraged to get in touch with the PSS team.”

During the last Standards Committee meeting, there were also several approved clarifications to the standards in the form of guidance notes and minor changes across a range of accreditation levels.

These include updates to the guidance notes for requirements on sterilisation of dental instruments, environmental swabbing of clinical areas, and anaesthetic monitoring.

The new version of the standards that includes all the latest changes, and a separate document listing all the updates, are available to download here: 

Any questions from practices about the updates can be sent to the PSS team at

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