Parties from across the Dutch healthcare sector have signed the national Green Deal 3.0. This contains new and more far-reaching agreements on making healthcare more sustainable. So, what actions can you take as an organisation to become more sustainable? We asked Elles Arxhoek, Sustainability Coordinator at ViVa! Zorggroep.
At ViVa! Zorggroep, sustainability has long been high on the agenda. Arxhoek: ‘In 2015 we already signed the regional Green Deal Zorg in IJmond and in 2022, our organisation was nominated for the IJmond Sustainability Award. In making our plans, we use the Environmental Thermometer or the Environmental Platform for Care as a starting point,’ She adds, ‘the Environmental Thermometer for Health Care is a useful tool for structurally improving environmental performance and environmental care and for making it tangible for employees, clients and visitors. There are three levels: gold, silver and bronze. ‘By 2020, all of our 18 locations will have achieved the bronze certificate. And now we are working hard to achieve level silver as well.’
How do you achieve sustainable results?
‘At ViVa! we arrange a lot centrally. This ensures that when you adopt a measure, it is implemented everywhere. For example, we now only buy cleaning products that carry an eco-label. And in the area of food, we opt for less meat and fish and offer more sustainable products.’
What does a sustainability coordinator do?
‘I keep track of what needs to be done and what can be done on the issue of sustainability. I play a pivotal role in the organisation and talk to everyone about what we can do together to work sustainably. Fortunately, you hear and read a lot about the importance of sustainability. That makes it easier. It is good for the environment, good for your people and often also good for your wallet.
How do you go about your work?
I am proactive and go out and meet people. If there is still a lot of resistance about a subject, I sometimes call in the help of an internal or external expert. If you give employees more insight into why you want something and what it can achieve, they also become more convinced. We also regularly do a pilot first at one or a few locations. That gives you the chance to try things out, improve processes and then roll it out optimally throughout the organisation.’ Furthermore, at ViVa! we have the e-mail address duurzaam@Vivazorggroep.nl where employees can send their questions. These can be anything from: “What can we do to save energy?” or “How do I order a PMD bin for my location?”.’
What can other organisations learn from ViVa! Zorggroep’s approach?
‘The golden tip for other healthcare organisations is: take it one step at a time. Explain what you are doing and share your results. With a positive approach and by doing it together you really get a lot of things done.’