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NHS makes huge sustainability gains through a simple change

Paper manufacture is an environmentally costly practice. Not limited to deforestation, paper also requires extensive amounts of water and energy to produce. The carbon cost of this energy is magnified by the loss of trees, which themselves are vital and natural carbon storage tanks.

By swapping over to recycled paper over virgin copier paper, more than 200 of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) trusts have collectively saved staggering amounts of energy, water, trees and emissions.

According to an infographic, the trusts saved energy amounted to 85,503 hours of watching a plasma TV, enough water to fill 161 Olympic swimming pools, 20,000 trees and the equivalent of 10 round the world airplane trips in CO2 emissions.


This was achieved whilst saving £256,000 in the first year, with the NHS’s cost avoidance reaching £1,410,000.

“A simple switch from recycled paper has made a big difference to the environmental footprint of NHS trusts,” said Martin Toomey, Head of Sustainability for NHS Supply Chain. 

“Procurement accounts for 58% of the NHS’s total carbon footprint so there’s huge potential to effect change and help the NHS to become a low anchor institution. We want to use the purchasing power of the NHS more assertively to drive change in supply chains and embed sustainability within the procurement process”