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Greener future for dental group which aims to halve plastic cup usage

An equivalent length of 17km of cups a year could be saved through the initiative.

Published: 30 August 2021

Clyde Munro Dental Group is launching a new sustainability initiative that hopes to save up to 200,000 plastic cups being sent to clinical waste each year.

Clyde Munro Dental Group plans to reduce its single-use plastic cup waste by half with the introduction of a new eco-friendly protocol that will see patients being asked if they wish to use a cup for a rinse rather than being given one automatically at each appointment.

The Glasgow-based firm is also in the process of transitioning from single-use plastic to paper and bamboo cups across the group in order to achieve its environmental objectives.

It comes as part of a wider environmental initiative to reduce, reuse and recycle where possible and encourage eco-friendly dental practices.

Amy Reilly, Head of Commercial Finance and Lead on the project, says: “A traditional surgery set-up procedure would dictate that the vast majority of patient preparation processes would include the setting out of a cup for a rinse, regardless of treatment type.

Due to the rigorous clinical control procedures in place, these cups must then be incinerated.

“Under normal circumstances, we see around 40,000 patients per month across our current 51 practices, which we estimate will use around 400,000 cups per annum across the group. With that in mind, we are looking at ways to change this practice to make a significant impact.

“Some of our practices trialled the protocol of not setting out cups as default, and only providing these when requested by the patient. We have found this incredibly effective at helping to not only reduce the number of cups used, but also helping to reduce the waste of disposed cups which were never used.”

The Glasgow-based dental group has appointed six of its practices across Scotland as “eco-champions” to trial a number of ideas that would help manage its impact on the environment.

These ideas include ink cartridge recycling, eco-friendly dental care products, energy and emissions savings and paperless appointment forms to coincide with Clyde Munro’s planned ‘Paperless Patient Journey’.

“We are passionate about preserving our beautiful natural environment and we are consciously looking at the ways in which we can support the dental industry to make a difference for the better, not only for our patients but also for our communities.”

Clyde Munro was founded by Jim Hall in 2015 with the acquisition of seven practices. Since then, it has enjoyed rapid growth and now comprises 51 practices across Scotland, with more than 430,000 patients and 400 staff.

As well as having a presence in all of Scotland’s cities, it owns practices from Orkney and the Highlands to the Scottish Borders.