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02 maart 2010

ESA ESTEC is boldly leading in sustainability

NOORDWIJK – One of the companies which is leading in the field of sustainability, is of course ESA/ ESTEC. The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

However, the future of mankind starts on our planet, and nobody knows that better than Carlo Sarasini, Head of the General Support Section in the Informatics & Facility Management Department. He is in charge of all the general support services; whether it is logistics, travelling, shipping and receiving of goods, cleaning, catering or interior architecture of new buildings. “For the agency, sustainability has become very important. Two years ago we started a study to see where we can improve on this field and now all our activities are done with sustainability in our mind.”

Sarasini gives several examples on how ESA is working on the field of sustainability: “We have a separate collection of batteries, but also a separate collection of paper. Every office has two bins; one for paper and one for normal rubbish. All the printers are set to double-print and to do the prints in b/w. Last year we set up a pilot and realised shuttle transportation from ESTEC to the airport. Every year we have over 50.000 visitors and many of them take a taxi from the airport. That is not good for the environment. With the shuttle transportation, we cut the emission of CO2, since we limit the number of cars on the road.”

Also, Sarasini and his team promote the usage of video conferences, both within ESA as within the industry. “KLM may not be happy, but we can limit the number of persons who would normally fly by plane to these meetings.” But on a smaller scale, the agency is achieving considerable results as well: “In our main restaurant we used to work with large garbage bins that had to be collected every day. Now all the swill is dumped in a big tank that is lying under ground. This tank is emptied every ten days and herewith we reduce the number of trucks collecting that type of garbage by 90%. The swill is also subject to a recycling process that benefits the environment.”

Sarasini concludes: “Everybody realises that working without sustainability, is not an affordable situation. Every detail is important in this field. When a taxi stops and parks, but does not switch off the engine, then we will tell the driver to do this. In addition, we promote car pooling within the organisation.”

For more information: European Space Agency ESA / ESTEC, Keplerlaan 1, 2200 AG Noordwijk, T: 071 565 8469, F: 071 565 5424, W:

Three Golden Tips:

- Nothing comes for free; an effort needs to be taken
- For an entrepreneur, sustainability is a very good way to attract customers. They value this a lot. We are always very pleased to know what ideas companies can come up with.
- If the idea is valuable, we will definitely consider it. We strife to increase our efficiency.