The year 2020 was the final year in the five-year environmental program period 2016–2020 at HUS.
During the past period, we again advanced environmental efforts at HUS on several fronts. Among other things, we improved sustainability in procurements, environmental matters and energy efficiency in construction and use of geothermal and solar energy and also enhanced waste management planning and control using new monitoring methods.
We attained our goal of reducing the volume of mixed waste across the five-year period and the interim goal of our energy efficiency agreement for the end of 2020. We had revised our communications and training in environmental matters, resulting in an increased eagerness by employees to participate.
Goal: carbon-neutral by 2030
In spring 2020, we took a major step towards carbon neutrality by obtaining guarantees that the electrical power that we use is generated with renewable, carbon-free sources. It is a strategic goal for us to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, and in preparation for this we began to plan for calculating our carbon footprint and for designing a climate roadmap. These will be completed in 2021 and will form the foundation for our climate efforts.
In 2020, we launched a new Intranet website for our personnel concerning sustainable modes of transport to use for commuting. Also, throughout the year we implemented measures included in our ‘smart mobility’ program completed at the end of 2019, and will continue these efforts in the coming years.
Our long-term goal is to increase cycling, walking and the use of public transport. Helsinki Regional Transport and the national ‘Smart to work’ project awarded us the ‘Commuter mobility pioneer 2020’ merit prize for our long-term efforts in promoting personnel wellbeing and sustainable commuter travel.
Waste management system expanded in Meilahti
In February 2020, the HUSKEY waste management system was introduced to monitor pharmaceutical waste on the Meilahti campus. In August, we introduced mixed waste invoicing through the same system, based on the number of mixed waste bags generated by operating units. Mixed waste management was previously included as a fixed-rate expense in internal facility rents at HUS, this was eliminated and replaced with quantity-based invoicing.
The purpose of this change was to encourage units to reduce the volume of mixed waste and to increase sorting and recycling. Units can view their waste volumes in the HUSKEY system.
Volume of mixed waste decreased despite the increased use of PPE
The coronavirus pandemic had a profound impact on our waste management. The increased use of personal protective equipment effectively doubled the volume of mixed waste on wards caring for coronavirus patients. Because of the pandemic, we drew up new HUS guidelines for waste sorting and safe waste handling. We also provided advisory services on waste management to our operating units. We also improved our waste management chains jointly with the various parties involved, addressing matters such as practices, packaging, collection bins, timetables and routes. Thanks to this close collaboration, we kept our waste management running smoothly despite the extraordinary circumstances.
Nevertheless, the pandemic did not cause an increase in the overall volume of mixed waste at HUS, quite the opposite: it decreased by about 150 tons on the previous year. This was principally due to an overall reduction in patient numbers and the switching over to quantity-based invoicing for mixed waste. There was also a significant drop in the volume of paper waste and biowaste. Thanks to active sorting, the volume of plastic waste collected increased by 18 tons on the previous year.
In accordance with the HUS JCI quality system, we devised operating principles for the handling of hazardous waste and chemicals. This was the first time that all the material and matters on this topic were brought together in a single package.
During the autumn, we devised a new environment program for the period 2021–2024 and also updated the HUS environmental policy. The new four-year program period is now synchronized with the HUS strategy cycle and is in line with its policies. The Executive Board approved the new environmental program in December 2020.