The coronavirus pandemic cut down on environmental training but increased the need for advisory services on waste.

The HUS Environmental Center provides and arranges environmental training for HUS employees on a regular basis. In 2020, we trained 52 new environmental managers for various units. Environmental managers are a vital component in the HUS in-house environmental network. In their training, they are given an overview of how environmental matters are managed in our organization and the skills with which to promote environmental awareness in everyday work in their respective units.

We also organized refresher courses for updating the competence and knowledge of employees already trained. We gave a few local or focused training and info sessions such as pharmaceutical waste briefings and chemical management training. At these sessions, employees were provided with detailed environmental information relevant for their specific job duties.

We had to cancel most of the training sessions planned for the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, including the annual HUS Environmental Seminar intended for the entire personnel. With the increased use of online platforms, we restarted the training in the form of remote sessions in the autumn. We had no study excursions at all during the year.

Our environmental responsibility teams held some regional training and info sessions on current topics such as pharmaceutical waste, drug traces and waste water treatment.

Increased need for advisory services

The coronavirus pandemic caused a surge in the need at HUS units for advisory services regarding waste management. At the same time, drawing up new waste guidelines required extensive research and additional coordination duties among the waste management operators. The HUS Environment Agency, HUS Real Estate, HUS Logistics goods transport and HUS Asvia hospital cleaning were in constant negotiations concerning the arrangements needed for these extraordinary circumstances, regarding the Surgical Hospital, for instance.

In February, we included pharmaceutical waste management orders and invoicing for the Meilahti campus in the HUSKEY waste monitoring system of HUS Real Estate. This addition caused a slight increase in the need for advisory services. We also updated the waste guidelines for Meilahti to conform to the new operating model and held two briefings on the matter.

Quantity-based mixed waste invoicing introduced

In August, we introduced mixed waste invoicing at HUS, based on the number of mixed waste bags generated by operating units. Previously, waste management was a fixed expense included in the rent charged for facilities. We publicized this invoicing change widely, and in addition HUS Real Estate updated its HUSKEY system to make it more customer-friendly.

Our goal is to encourage units to reduce the volume of mixed waste and to increase sorting and recycling. Some of our environmental responsibility groups were inspired to run campaigns in their respective units.

Communications raise awareness of environmental matters

Communications are an essential tool for bringing awareness of environmental and social responsibility into everyday operations. One of the goals of the HUS Environmental Program is to make every HUS employee aware of the environmental impacts of their respective jobs and how they can influence these.

In addition to training and advisory services, we have publicized our environmental efforts in many ways, through news articles, bulletins, campaign materials, social media updates and videos. The principal channels for in-house communications are the Intranet, Yammer, e-mail and Teams meetings.

During the year, we published two editions of the Ympäristöposti [Environmental Post] newsletter, containing collections of useful environmental facts, instructions and tips for instance on reducing and sorting waste, on chemical matters and on energy efficiency. In our annual energy conservation week, we emphasized ways of conserving energy in everyday work and offered info bulletin material to the environmental managers for their use.

We publish an environmental tip for our employees’ everyday work in every issue of the personnel magazine Husari. These tips have to do with things like reducing food waste and mixed waste, remote working, plastic waste sorting and conservation in water consumption and lighting.

New Intranet website for commuter travel

We continued to pursue the theme of ‘Responsible mobility’ in the year under review with the publication of a new Intranet website, ‘Travel between home and work’. This website contains a substantial info package for employees concerning modes of travel and mobility in the HUS area.

The info package focuses on commuting, encouraging employees to explore sustainable options, for instance by providing maps of the renovated bicycle parking facilities around hospitals. The website also contains a compilation on transport planning, on the environmental and health impacts of modes of mobility and on commuting benefits.

Helsinki Regional Transport and the national ‘Smart to work’ project awarded us the ‘Commuter mobility pioneer 2020’ merit prize for our long-term efforts and exemplary practices in promoting personnel wellbeing and sustainable commuter and work-related travel.

Campaigns highlighted everyday choices

In the campaign Älä heitä hukkaan! [Don’t throw it away!] run by the ‘Ecological ATeK’ environmental responsibility group in the HUS Perioperative, Intensive Care and Pain Medicine department (ATeK), we focused on responsible actions in everyday work with patients. We campaigned for reducing wastage in supplies and thereby in costs and fostered price-consciousness, consideration in which supplies to have to hand and how to select the most ecological and cost-effective products.

The campaign emphasized the importance of joint planning and communication in moving things forward while reminding everyone of the advantages of reusable products as opposed to disposable ones.

Working to reduce food waste

The HUS Asvia responsibility team publishes news on sustainability at Asvia four times a year. We reported on our food waste reduction project and the information we collected during the project for planning further action. We also examined how the coronavirus pandemic had affected the generation of food waste.

We highlighted responsible choices in patient and personnel meals and published an annual calendar and practical tips to help environmental managers. We also published a job description for the Asvia environmental manager. We held a campaign for food waste week at HUS workplace canteens in the autumn.