5 Smart Ways to Lower Your Dental Carbon Footprint
The UK has recently brought forward its ambitious climate change targets: we’re legally bound to reduce UK carbon emissions by 78% in 2035 compared to 1990 levels. That’s a 60% reduction on today’s levels, and one of the strongest legally-binding targets in the world. So how can the dental industry play its part
According to the BDA, NHS dental services emissions make up 3% of the overall carbon footprint of the NHS. Unsurprisingly, most of these emissions (over 60%) come from patient and staff travel, while issues around waste and plastic continue to pose a challenge.
There is plenty of scope for improvement in all areas. Here are a few quick wins and big ideas from Kent Express to help you hit your own sustainability targets.
Embracing digital dentistry
One positive that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the increased use of technology within dentistry, something which the industry has previously been accused of being behind the times on.
As physical visits and diagnosis have been restricted, many practices have begun embracing remote dentistry with video consultations and virtual visits through smartphones.
Some practitioners believe that many tasks that have traditionally been undertaken in the practice, especially around consultations, can be done remotely, providing that the technology is secure and reliable.
In the surgery itself, computer-based technologies like CAD/CAM are on the rise, as is the use of digital radiography over traditional X-rays. These technological advances can save time and money in the long run as well as benefit the environment.
Stocking greener dental supplies
According to the BDA, challenges around decontamination, waste disposal and the use of single-use plastics are the top priorities when it comes to cutting dental emissions.
Switching to greener dental supplies and equipment, where clinically appropriate, can be one of the quickest and most straightforward paths to greater sustainability.
Eco-friendly materials such as recycled towels and tissues, switching to non-plastic hygiene products (e.g. bamboo toothbrushes), trying reusable items such as glass dappen dishes and autoclavable impression trays, and changing to less toxic disinfectant cleaners are just some of the potential changes that should be explored. All of these sustainable dental supplies are available now from Kent Express.
Tie sustainability in with your practice marketing strategy by trying something different and signing up to a tree planting initiative.
Companies as diverse as Brewdog, Selfridges, Enterprise and Lloyds have partnered with tree planting organisations such as the Woodland Trust.
How about incentivising your patients to leave reviews for your company in return for planting some trees? This would benefit your business as well as the environment and help advertise your “green” credentials.
Using social media, email marketing and paid search advertising can be great ways to reach patients via their mobile devices and should be part of an overall shift to a more paperless operation.
Talk to staff about the importance of conserving energy. Small actions such as turning off the lights and equipment when not in use will help you to cut costs, and also help to cut emissions. In communal areas, try to use only as much light as is needed. It may even be worth considering replanning communal areas to maximise natural light and ventilation.
Encourage greener habits in staff: buy each team member a reusable bottle and invest in a water station for quick and easy refills, rather than generating plastic waste.
When cleaning equipment, turning off the tap between cleaning dental instruments can cut water waste significantly.
Reducing waste and limiting the amount of product that ends up in landfill should be the ultimate environmental goal for your surgery and all practices should have a strong “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" policy in place.
Many everyday consumables, such as cups, bibs and plastic wrappers can and should be recycled. Even computer parts and electronics should be considered for recycling, as should anything made of aluminium, glass, plastic, paper or steel.
Get your patients involved too by signing up to the recently launched Phillips Dental Care Recycling programme, which allows patients to drop off their used dental care products when they visit your practice and help raise money for local charitable organisations.