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Environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability


Mater Health Services (MHS) recognises the expectations of our patients and the local community as a contributing reason for embarking on its sustainability journey. Following the release of the Pope’s Encyclical in May 2015, environmental sustainability has never been more important to Mater People.

The journey towards a more sustainable MHS began in 2007, when legislation for the  National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (NGER) was introduced along with reporting requirements for the National Pollutant Inventory.

Following these developments, the MHS Board identified areas to be addressed in MHS’s strategic plan which stated that “Mater will increase its activities to ensure we optimise our position as responsible corporate citizens. Initially we will work to reduce our water usage before increasing the scope of our activities to other areas such as energy, recycling and the effective use of products.” MHS has embarked on a wide variety of initiatives across the key themes of energy, water, waste, procurement, facilities design, transport and stakeholder engagement.

Sustainability at Mater

The Sustainability at Mater program develops initiatives to support the responsible management and consumption of Mater’s resources and our impact on the natural environment for the benefit of current and future generations. To date, more than 160 initiatives have been implemented across the focus areas of energy, water, waste, procurement, facilities design, transport and stakeholder engagement.

To demonstrate the link between the Sustainability at Mater program and the Exceptional Every Time strategy, the sustainability team has created a short video ‘starring’ a cross-section of Mater People who are incorporating environmental changes into the workplace across Health, Research and Education.


Sustainability Committee

In 2008, further work was commenced with the creation of a multidisciplinary sustainability committee which comprises executive directors and senior directors from across MHS. In 2010, a full time dedicated position was created to coordinate the initiatives, identify new opportunities and monitor results. MHS’s carbon footprint has been measured each financial year since 2008/2009, helping to accurately identify environmental improvements.  Evaluation of our initiatives has also benefited from our partnerships including internal staff feedback and collaboration with university researchers (see below). MHS incorporates environmental reporting in its Annual Review.

Key objectives

Mater has identified following objectives in its environmental sustainability policy:

  1. Create and maintain a multidisciplinary, complex-wide Environmental Sustainability Committee that leads the implementation of ES principles, policies, programs, education and initiatives.
  2. Focus on enhancing energy efficiency, minimise waste output and reduce unnecessary water consumption
  3. Give  consideration in product procurement to the most eco-efficient product which fulfils our needs
  4. Commit to consideration of Environmental Sustainability Design principles being incorporated in all new and refurbished facilities by using appropriate design, materials and sizing of plant and infrastructure.
  5. Maintain all facilities, plant and infrastructure so as to maximise ES and efficiency.
  6. Promote education, awareness and the need for ES to all staff.
  7. Recognise and acknowledge staff and partners who make significant contributions to improving our ES performance.
  8. Promote alternative transport opportunities to staff and visitors to our service.
  9. Measure, monitor and report on consumption/utilisation on a monthly basis in the key areas of ES to identify opportunities for improvement.
  10. Embed ES considerations into our strategic and operational decision making processes including an environmental impact and sustainability assessment as part of the standard business case template.
  11. Embed ES considerations into policy development framework to ensure impacts on the environment are responsibly considered when establishing and reviewing corporate policies and work procedures.

Historical achievements – highlights

Since 2008, environmental achievements have included:

  • Over 160 initiatives implemented or explored, involving thousands of staff and saving over $2.8M.
  • Hundreds of environmental presentations and in-services delivered to clinical and non-clinical staff.
  • Over 3000 staff have signed the environmental sustainability pledge as at 2015 for over 34,000 behaviours – the pledge focuses on a list of 17 voluntary behaviours at the individual level.
  • 40% reduction in water consumption per occupied bed days (OBD).
  • Over 125 tonnes of clinical waste saved since 2011/12 to 2014/15.
  • Over 144 tonnes per year of increased recycling since 2010/2011.
  • Keep cups have introduced to Mater coffee shops, and over 3500 have been sold.
  • Mater’s fleet has reduced by 46 vehicles and fuel consumption per vehicle has decreased by over 20%.
  • Substantial reductions in electricity consumption and costs have been achieved.
  • A Sustainability Software Solution will provide monthly reporting on all indicators .

The MHS is a member of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network (GGHH) and has committed to goals of the GGHH, and has shared a number of case studies with this forum:

Research and evaluation

MHS participation in research collaborations is reinforcing our evidence-based approach to embedding environmentally sustainable thinking into ‘business as usual’ activities. Research collaborations have been conducted with Griffith University, the University of Queensland and Leeds University.


Sustainability efforts at MHS have been widely recognised through a range of external awards over time, including the following:

  • 2015 Premier’s Sustainability Awards – Mater Health Services - Finalist
  • 2014 Australian Marketing Institute – National  Winner “Sustainability at Mater”
  • 2014 Lord Mayors Business Awards – Mater Health Services – Winner sustainability category
  • 2014 Australian Marketing Institute – State Winner “Sustainability at Mater”
  • 2014 Premier’s Sustainability Awards – Mater Health Services - Finalist
  • 2013 PRIA (National) marketing – “Sustainability at Mater” - highly commended
  • 2013 Lord Mayors Business Awards – Mater Health Services - highly commended
  • 2013 PRIA (State) marketing – “Sustainability at Mater” - highly commended
  • 2012 Research Paper - "Turn it Off: Encouraging Environmentally Friendly Behaviours in the workplace" – Evans, Russell, Fielding & Hill  – “Sustainability and Social issues in management Stream Award”.  ANZAM “Best Paper Award”
  • 2012 Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage - Mater Health Services - EcoBiz partnership
  • 2011 Business South Bank Sustainability Award – Winner Mater Health Service