Sustainability for us at the QEI clinic is recycling as much as we can of the materials that we use daily. We are also focused on encouraging our staff and patients to think twice about the use of paper, packaging, batteries and energy. This allows us to conserve materials for the future and slows down the annual usage rate. We can achieve this by focusing on the benefits of recycling and by how much we can reduce our carbon footprint. The following measures demonstrate how we can put our sustainability goals into practice:
According to a recent ABC report, the new recycling scheme B-cycle, estimates that Australians buy enough batteries every year to circle our planet 2.3 times and about 50 per cent of people put their batteries in the general waste or recycling bin.
If batteries are not recycled they end up in landfill where there is a risk they can leach toxic material, such as lead and mercury into the surrounding soil and groundwater. There is also a risk of fire as even dead/flat batteries can contain some charge. Another benefit of recycling is that we can then use the materials in the battery, for future batteries.
We encourage recycling by supplying a battery disposal box at the QEI clinic. All used and flat batteries are added and once full they are taken by a team member to either ALDI or Officeworks where they have battery collection bins.
At the clinic, many of our patients no longer need glasses, particularly those who have had cataract surgery. Therefore with their donated glasses, we focus on giving the gift of sight to people who are unable to afford them. In 2017, the QEI team cleaned, bagged and recorded prescriptions of over 400 glasses to distribute to the villagers of Ndola in Zambia. We continue to collect unwanted glasses, so help us continue to save sight with your donated glasses.
At the clinic, we supply cups made of recycled materials for hot and cold drinks for our patients. We have also introduced different coloured bins; red (household waste) and yellow (recycling). Using the ‘Containers for Change initiative’ we ensure as many containers as possible are returned for recycling.
According to City Services ACT the average office worker still uses around 10,000 sheets of A4 paper per year. With paper production being one of the most energy-intensive of all manufacturing industries, it is important to try and change our attitudes to paper. Where possible, at the clinic we have focused more on emailing patients receipts and letters instead of printing. When we offer the choice of print or email, many will now opt for email instead.
The QEI clinic has a sustainability committee that is working towards supporting and expanding the QEI Sustainable Development Goals. Through regular meetings and our internal newsletter our staff stay informed of our sustainability plans, goals and achievements. Having the support of our staff has been instrumental in making a difference since 2020 and will continue to play an integral role into the future.