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RZSS Sustainability - a year of resource efficiency

22/04/2019 in RZSS

Penguin swimming at Edinburgh Zoo

It has been some six months since our last sustainability update and the RZSS Green Team are eager to share some exciting plans for the year ahead, but first, a quick catch up on 2018...

The Green Team were delighted to be named as finalists at the 2018 VIBES Awards (Scottish Environment Business Awards) within the Green Team of the Year category. This is a fantastic achievement for the team, and great recognition both for our PawsVsPlastic campaign (hosted at Edinburgh Zoo and our Highland Wildlife Park) and launching the first Reverse Vending Machine within a Scottish visitor attraction.

RZSS Green team as finalisits at the 2018 VIBE awards and the reverse vending machine

Above: The first reverse vending machine within a Scottish visitor attraction (left) and the RZSS Green Team as finalists at the 2018 VIBES awards (right).


Looking to 2019, we are delighted to share news of our latest project – The Year of Resource Efficiency.

What is resource efficiency and why is it important?

Resource efficiency essentially means using the Earth's limited resources in a sustainable manner and minimising any impacts on the environment. Basically the aim is to create more whilst using less, and money.

Moreover, promoting resource efficiency can create jobs, stimulate innovation, boost sectors such as recycling and resource recovery, and help ensure secure supplies of key resources.

It’s hardly surprising that resource efficiency has been a key initiative within businesses and with policy makers around the globe.

RZSS Year of Resource Efficiency

During 2019 the team are focusing on three primary resources relevant to both our Parks – water, waste and energy. We will be conducting audits of how we use these resources, making improvements where possible and informing both staff and visitors on how they can help RZSS to become more efficient.

We need water wastage to be as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face or a baby or throwing you plastic bags in the sea.

Sir James Bevan
Chief Executive, Environment Agency UK

As water efficiency is becoming an increasing focus around the world, this will be the first resource being tackled by the Green Team, concentrating on staff and visitor areas to ensure we are only using what’s needed. Living in Scotland, especially during the wet winter months, it is hard to imagine water being a limited resource. However, as the Scottish Water infographic below shows, the amount of fresh water available on Earth is actually, proportionately, very small.

Resource efficency World Water Facts

RZSS have already made huge leaps towards reducing our water consumption and at Edinburgh Zoo we have decreased our mains water usage by over 50% in the last 10 years. This has been achieved by:

•    Identification and repair water leaks
•    Renewed infrastructure of old pipes and systems
•    Phased installation of waterless urinals across the sites
•    Utility monitoring system providing real time data on water usage to help identify unusual usage patterns

We have also achieved this by making use of a borehole on site. In 2005, RZSS worked with Scottish Water to secure 25% of the zoo’s current water usage through the construction of a borehole and associated infrastructure. This was the first phase of a programme to achieve total self-sufficiency in water usage. In August 2006, SEPA granted RZSS Edinburgh Zoo with a license for extraction of water from the borehole and since December 2006 has been supplying over 50% of the Zoo’s annual water consumption.

It is our aim by auditing our usage, we can implement new, more efficient equipment and change our practices and processes to use only what water we need and make what we do use go further. This will make RZSS even more water efficient but also significantly reduce our impact on the world around us.

We look forward to sharing further updates on our progress with resource efficiency later in the year.

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