Used cooking oil? Yellow gold.  Helping to power London cabs and the ‘world’s most sustainable building’.

Used cooking oil? Yellow gold. Helping to power London cabs and the ‘world’s most sustainable building’.

The disposal of used cooking oil – aside from remembering not to pour it down the sink – is probably not something that crosses people’s minds very much. Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, however, isn’t letting it go to waste. The Central London trust is successfully converting it to biodiesel, and helping power London’s black cabs as well as One Embankment Place – a building accredited with the highest BREEAM rating in the world.

Fuel for London

Around 400 litres of oil is taken from Guy’s and St Thomas’ kitchens every month, and processed by a local biofuel company, Uptown Oil. It’s then used to power vehicles, including black cabs, and local businesses’ generators. At One Embankment Place, it’s used in its tri-generation combined cooling heat and power system, and helps the building achieve its ambitious targets of energy and carbon reduction.

Sustainable healthcare – the only way forward is together

The collaboration of healthcare organisations and the waste management industry, as exemplified by Guy’s and St Thomas’ and their waste services provider, Bywaters, creates coherent, shared visions for sustainable development and management.

In April this year, Bywaters became the single waste contractor for Guy’s and St Thomas’. This partnership has sparked a number of exciting initiatives, such as the local repurposing of waste oil, but also an improvement on the basics of waste management – reducing waste at source, increasing rates of recycling, and educating staff about how best to manage waste in a busy clinical environment.

[collaboration for sustainability] ensures the development of a health system that’s sustainable in the long term – reducing inappropriate demand, reducing waste and incentivising more effective use of services and products. […] The principles of sustainable development promote a joined-up way of structuring and delivering business.

John S Glover, Managing Director for Bywaters

Essentia’s Alexandra Hammond, who is leading the sustainability agenda for Guy’s and St Thomas’, works closely with Bywaters to put these principles into practice – in a recent article she noted that the public sector as a whole is lagging behind the private sector in implementing sustainability measures.

We need to look for opportunities to think creatively about how we address the huge amount of waste that is generated by healthcare. The best solution is to avoid it in the first place, and this is done through education and prioritising the issue to staff and patients. There are some waste streams that we can’t avoid, however, so we must find solutions – converting our used cooking oil helps tackle air quality issues in London, and ensures that the full value of this ‘waste’ is realised.

Alexandra Hammond, Associate Director of Sustainability, Essentia

Waste costs have been reduced by 15% at Guy’s and St Thomas’  in 2013/14, due in part to their successful efforts to avoid waste and increase rates of recycling.

Need advice on getting your sustainability ideas into practice? Get in touch at alexandra.hammond@gstt.nhs.uk

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