Case Study: Torrington Orthopaedics, Brighouse
"Start with quick and easy changes, it feels like an early victory and helps set the tone for making a difference."
Established in 1999, Torrington Orthopaedics provides a dedicated Small Animal Orthopaedic referral service in Yorkshire.
“Over several months, team members had individually read several articles on the environmental impacts of veterinary practices. Many of us were very concerned and wanted to take action,” explains Helen Torrington, from Torrington Orthopaedics.
She continues: “We had set up our practice over 20 years ago, full of dreams and ideas about how to be ‘green’. We had a wormery, movement-operated lighting, and a great recycling protocol – but regardless of all this we just became swamped year-on-year with more and more plastic packaging.”
The organisation’s first step was to invite staff to put themselves forward to form an Environment Committee, to look at all aspects of the practice. The feedback was very positive, and the group soon gained eight members, who represented a wide range of roles within the business. At the first meeting there was an open forum discussing how and what they all wanted to research. The second meeting left the team with an enormous list of possible courses of action, which felt somewhat overwhelming.
Working towards accreditation
Luckily one of the team had contacted another practice that had recently gained Investors in the Environment (iiE) accreditation. This sounded like the perfect solution, offering a structured approach and guidance. Torrington Orthopaedics signed up and is now working towards the Bronze Award.
The process started with an introductory call with iiE’s advisor, who ran through the whole process. Since every business is different there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, but good basic management tasks include auditing current energy usage and waste production, setting SMART targets, and working out tasks and deadlines. The team needed to decide on what the problems were and how to come up with clever solutions to solve them.
iiE advised that the Green Team should represent people from across the organisation. This is inclusive and benefits from providing many different viewpoints to the same problem. It is important to have senior management involvement to help support the group’s ideas and give authority. It is also vital to identify the quick wins first.
"The organisation has already implemented some easy changes, including trialling a more eco-friendly disinfectant for cleaning the clinical areas. The team felt it was important not to impose changes on their colleagues, but to allow trial periods and an opportunity for feedback, aiming to be very positive about the benefits of the changes and educate on the impact they will have."
In this early phase the team learned:
- Having a structure to follow gives more direction and purpose;
- Getting a wide range of employees involved brings a wide array of ideas;
- Try to lead by 'hosting' - this takes the pressure off you and is much more empowering for your employees;
- Start with quick and easy changes, it feels like an early victory and helps set the tone for making a difference.
Torrington Orthopaedics identified that they wanted to look at the following criteria: Electricity, Gas, Water, Paper, Waste, and Anaesthetic gases. One of the committee members was tasked with creating spreadsheets to record these by auditing past invoices. Initially there was an awareness campaign for the practice to highlight the importance of reducing energy consumption and decreasing waste production.
"A simple change was to set up a system to make sure any equipment was turned off after use, including lights and heating. Energy savings are then fed back to staff via the monthly newsletter and blog."
The team has looked at ways to reduce paper consumption, including changing to electronic systems and double-sided printing, and has also changing to recycled paper. In order to control waste production, they have swapped the domestic cleaning products with refillable bottles. This has saved over 100 plastic bottles from going to landfill. They also created a composting system from kitchen waste, which supplies the vegetable garden project.
“The ongoing support from iiE has been invaluable,” says Helen. “It has given us direction, encouraged us to audit and then set reduction targets, and has given us ideas to help spread the word and encourage everyone to engage in the process.”