Reduce Paper Waste

How much of UK paper is recycled?

In the UK, we use over 9.9 million tonnes of paper each year. We recycle around 80% of paper in the UK.

shredded waste paper
shredded waste paper

Do you class your Practice as a ‘paper free practice?  

Here are a few questions you may what to ask yourself regarding your Practice.

Do you take into consideration how much printing you do in your practice? It is good to get someone to assess what is happening with the printing waste within your Practice. Have you had a discussion with all your team regarding non-essential printing?Does it really need to be printed or can it be emailed? Do you still send out letters/recalls or treatment plans instead of emailing them?

Medical History Forms/Lab Dockets and other Paper Records

Have you changed over to the Clinipad version where patients can fill them in and sign with an e-signature or are you still printing them out, getting patients to fill them in and then scanning these onto the patient’s records and then shredding them?

What happens to this paper does it get recycled?

Does it get shredded and put into recycling or just thrown in the general waste in a black sack?

What happens to shredded paper UK?

All shredded paper is recycled, and it improves the paper recycling process because of the high levels of good quality white office paper and minimal contaminants (particularly plastics) mixed in with the shredded paper. The shredded paper is then baled and transported directly to a paper mill for recycling.

Did you know……

You can use shredded newsprint for compost? (Except for coloured and glossy paper, which might contain some toxic heavy metals), newsprint and other paper is safe to use as mulch or in compost. In fact, one study revealed that paper had less toxic material than straw or grass!

What happens to all those paper lab dockets? Are they shredded and put into the paper recycling? Or have you changed over to communicating with the laboratory via digital prescriptions for the lab work?


What happens in your Practice with your non-contaminated pouches on the decontamination rooms or the surgeries? The ones that are opened with clean gloves at the beginning of treatment. Are these separated from the plastic that they are attached to and placed into the paper recycling or are they put into clinical waste? (And we all know they shouldn’t be in clinical waste if not contaminated)

Recycling Companies

Have you checked where your collection goes, what happens to it?

Do you know where your recycling is taken to? Or is it just taken to landfill? You may be doing all you can but is your company that you use doing the same for the environment?

This goes for all of your collections of waste.

Here are two companies worth taking a look at.

About CWS – Waste Management Experts serving the South West (

Waste management | Veolia

How is paper recycled in the UK?

Paper is taken from the bin and deposited in a large recycling container along with paper from other recycling bins.

The paper is taken to a recycling plant where it is separated into types and grades.

The paper is left to dry, and then it is rolled up ready to be cut and sent back to the shops.

Claire Frisby

The Remote dental nurse
Posted in

1 Comment

  1. Mark Setters on January 16, 2022 at 12:39 pm

    Perhaps it was because I was still using paper records and diaries until as recently as 2018; I was always surprised when I came across Dental Practices who had the technology to be paper free, and yet seemed to still be producing significant amounts of paper in their clinical workflow.
    Is it a psychological phenomenon?
    The computer removes the need for so much paperwork; producing a lesser amount in comparison would be perceived as an overall gain.
    Are the people who originally chose the computer setup, aware of how it is being used on a day to day basis?
    And of course in reverse. Are the users aware of the full potential of a system?
    Often with practices changing hands, staff turnover, and management with more pressing demands upon them; the original concept is lost in the mists of time. Workflow can become an amalgamation of various incarnations of previous working practices and staff preferences; even those who may not work there anymore!
    Sit down with someone who has a reasonable grasp of the potential of the computer system, and the users. Find out how it is being used, what they require from it. With a goal to generating fewer printouts, develop a new workflow across the practice.
    Some ideas:

    * Do you need to print a separate day list for the Dentist and Nurse?
    Try to go from 2 to 1; or even 0, if the computer screen is well positioned

    * Ask the patient if you can email the treatment receipt rather than print it on request. The more insurance companies receive information in this form, the quicker the whole industry will accept it.

    * COVID has broken the axiom that patients have to sign every single document involved with their treatment. This widens the opportunity for keeping documents in an email form, with no more than a rewording of the text

    * Look at the digital signing systems available. They form a small proportion of the cost of an overall computer systems.

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