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NHS saves thousands of trees and enough water to fill 161 Olympic size swimming pools

18 February 2020

Over 200 NHS trusts have made huge environmental savings by simply switching their copier paper.

The move from A4 virgin fibre copier paper to A4 recycled paper last year saved the equivalent of:

  • Watching 85,503 hours of a plasma TV in energy
  • Filling 161 Olympic size swimming pools with water
  • Felling 20,000 trees in wood
  • Travelling 10 times around the world in an aeroplane in Co2.

The switch to recycled copier paper not only delivered environmental savings, it has also driven financial savings to the NHS. By channelling national commitment, reducing variety from two lines of paper (70gsm and 80gsm) to one (80gsm) and changing from virgin to recycled paper, £256,000 has been saved in the first year with a cost avoidance to the NHS of £1,410,000.

A simple switch from recycled paper has made a big difference to the environmental footprint of NHS trusts. 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 carbon anchor institute. 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.Martin Toomey, Head of Sustainability
NHS Supply Chain

See our Useful Links section for further information about our work on sustainability.

Energy Savings

Media Enquiries:

Jennie Gilleeney

Corporate Communications Manager

07714 043 391

Joanna Morrison

Head of Public Affairs and PR

07776 457 201

About NHS Supply Chain

All information in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

NHS Supply Chain manages the sourcing, delivery and supply of healthcare products, services and food for NHS trusts and healthcare organisations across England and Wales.

Managing more than 4.5 million orders per year, across 94,000 order points and 15,000 locations, NHS Supply Chain systems consolidate orders from over 800 suppliers, saving trusts time and money and removing duplication of overlapping contracts.

Lord Carter’s report into efficiency and productivity in the NHS, published in 2015, identified unwarranted variation in procurement across the NHS, resulting in the need to improve operational efficiencies to transform a fragmented procurement landscape. To undertake this transformation the Department of Health and Social Care established the Procurement Transformation Programme (PTP) to deliver a new NHS Supply Chain.

The new NHS Supply Chain was designed to help the NHS deliver clinically assured, quality products at the best value, through a range of specialist buying functions. Its aim is to leverage the buying power of the NHS to negotiate the best deals from suppliers and deliver savings of £2.4 billion back into NHS frontline services by the end of the financial year 2022/23.

The new model consists of eleven specialist buying functions, known as Category Towers, delivering clinical consumables, capital medical equipment and non-medical products such as food and office solutions. Three enabling services for logistics, supporting technology and transactional services underpin the model.

Key benefits the new NHS Supply Chain will bring NHS trusts and suppliers include:

NHS Trusts

  • Savings channelled back to frontline services
  • Releasing more time for core clinical activities
  • Greater NHS clinical involvement in purchasing decision
  • More effective introduction of new products.


  • Lowering sales and marketing costs
  • Single route into the national market
  • A joined-up approach across the NHS
  • Clear route for innovative products.

On 1 April 2018, a new commercially astute management function called Supply Chain Coordination Limited (SCCL) went ‘live’. A limited company, wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, SCCL is part of the NHS family. The management function is responsible for driving commercial objectives, managing the category towers and enabling services whilst overseeing continuous improvement.