This paper describes how the level of environmental sustainability at the Solid Waste Processing plant at Research Sites Restoration Ltd (RSRL) Harwell was measured and improved. It provides reasons to improve environmental performance in an organisation, states best practice on how improvement should be conducted, and gives first-hand experience on how changes were implemented. In this paper sustainability is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

A baseline for environmental sustainability was created, by looking at multiple attributes. From this, a matrix was created to show how the baseline environmental performance compared to best practice, and a gap analysis was performed. Results from this analysis showed areas for potential systematic improvement, and actions were created. Nearly all actions were implemented within one year, and environmental sustainability improved significantly. Most improvements cost no money to implement, and the few that did had to pass criteria in a business case.

Results from a company-wide survey showed that the vast majority of employees felt that environmental issues were important, and that they were willing to help improve performance. Environmental awareness training was given to everyone in the department, and individuals were given measurable improvement targets. A focus group was set up and met regularly to agree improvements and monitor results. Environmental performance was publicised regularly to highlight successes and seek further engagement and improvement. Improvement ideas were encouraged and managed in a transparent way which showed clear prioritisation and accountability.

The culture of environmental improvement changed visibly and results at the end of the first year showed that electricity consumption had reduced by 12.5%, and gas consumption had reduced by 7.3%. In less than two years over £60,000 was saved on utility bills in the Waste Processing Plant.

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