Sustainability Officer Andy Macpherson highlights some simple actions we can all take in the workplace and at home to become ecosmart - and debunks some of the most common myths.
Eco Facts -
Switching off lights does make savings
For a typical cluster of eight desks in an open plan office, which are already fitted with modern energy efficient lights, the savings from switching off at night and at weekends are £300 per year.
Switching off computers at end of the day/shift will substantially reduce our energy consumption and cut costs
We can’t switch all computers off because some places work 24/7. But even if we assume that we need to keep half the computers on, we could save over £220,000 per year by switching those off at evenings and weekends.
Placing waste in appropriate bags makes savings and increases our recycling progress
On some of our leased sites staff might be tempted to put non-confidential paper waste in the confidential bag so that it gets recycled. However it is much more expensive to process and the extra energy involved in shredding and bagging outweighs the recycling benefit.
It costs around £80 to deal with a tonne of general waste and about £200 per tonne for confidential.
Eco Fiction -
It’s all waste, no reason to separate items
In most of our sites, we can put just about every category of general (that is to say, non-clinical and non-confidential waste) into black bags and about 80% of the contents will be recycled or reused in some way. This is a deliberate choice in preference to having separate bins for paper, plastic etc because of space limitations and also to reduce the number of vehicle movements between sites. However, in some buildings at Gartnavel we are trying out the combination of separate collections for paper/plastic/cans, glass and other general black bag waste.
Our building/office is old and leaks heat and we can’t do anything about this
Do you know for sure that you can’t do anything about it? Have you checked with Estates? There are still likely to be things that you can do, like turning off electrical equipment as above. Good housekeeping is all the more important in this sort of building, whether it’s making sure that you close doors and windows or use blinds to prevent excessive heating on hotter days.
Food can’t be recycled
For a majority of sites, our food waste is converted through a process called anaerobic digestion into gas for electricity generation and sold to the national grid.
Depending on where you live, you may have separate local authority food waste collections which do likewise. If you have access to a garden or allotment you can compost a large amount of your household food waste such as vegetable trimmings as well as smaller quantities of paper and cardboard. The average family throws away £60 worth of good food a month so for great suggestions about reducing waste and storing food go to www.lovefoodhatewaste.com.