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Environmental sustainability


Mater 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 more sustainable Mater services 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 Mater Board identified areas to be addressed in Mater’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.”

Mater 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 190 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 Mater’s 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 Mater. In 2010, a full-time dedicated position was created to coordinate the initiatives, identify new opportunities, and monitor results. Mater’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). Mater incorporates environmental reporting in its Annual Review.

Key objectives

Mater has identified the following objectives in its environmental sustainability policy:

  1. create and maintain a multidisciplinary, complex-wide Environmental Sustainability (ES) Committee that leads the implementation of ES principles, policies, programs, education and initiatives
  2. focus on enhancing energy efficiency, minimising waste output and reducing 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 the following:

  • more than 190 initiatives implemented or explored, involving thousands of staff and savings of more than $2.3m for the organisation
  • hundreds of environmental presentations and in-services delivered to clinical and non-clinical staff
  • more than 3655 staff have signed the environmental sustainability pledge as at 2016 for more than       41 585 behaviours (the pledge focuses on a list of 17 voluntary behaviours at the individual level)
  • 34 per cent reduction in water consumption per occupied bed days (OBD)
  • more than 185 tonnes of clinical waste saved since 2011/12
  • more than 142 tonnes of increased recycling since 2010/2011
  • Keep Cups introduced to Mater cafes, with more than 3 500 sold
  • reducing Mater’s fleet by 46 vehicles with fuel consumption decreasing by more than 40 per cent since 2010/11
  • substantial reductions in electricity consumption and costs
  • a Sustainability Software Solution, which provides monthly reporting on all indicators.

Mater 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, including:

Research and evaluation

Mater’s 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 University of Leeds.


Sustainability efforts at Mater have been widely recognised through a range of external awards since 2011, including the following:

  • 2017 Global Green and Healthy Hospitals 2020 Challenge(Gold): Climate Resiliency
  • 2017 Global Green and Healthy hospitals 2020 Challenge (Silver): GHG Reduction (energy)
  • 2016 Queensland Premier’s Sustainability Awards (Winner): Premier’s Award for Sustainability
  • 2016 Queensland Premier’s Sustainability Awards (Winner): Business Eco-Efficiency
  • 2016 Queensland Premier’s Sustainability Awards (Finalist): Leadership in Sustainability
  • 2016 ecoBiz champion status: Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland
  • 2015 Premier’s Sustainability Awards (Finalist)
  • 2014 Australian Marketing Institute Awards for Marketing Excellence (National  Winner): Sustainability at Mater
  • 2014 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards (Winner): sustainability category
  • 2014 Australian Marketing Institute Awards for Marketing Excellence (State Winner): Sustainability at Mater
  • 2014 Premier’s Sustainability Awards (Finalist)
  • 2013 PRIA (National) Marketing Awards (Highly Commended): Sustainability at Mater
  • 2013 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards (Highly Commended)
  • 2013 PRIA (State) Marketing Awards (Highly Commended): Sustainability at Mater
  • 2012 ANZAM ‘Best Paper’ Award: Sustainability and Social issues in management Stream Award for "Turn it Off: Encouraging Environmentally Friendly Behaviours in the workplace"
  • 2011 Business South Bank Sustainability Awards (Winner)