Exploring eco-friendly options

16 February 2021
3 min read
Published:

Hayden George explains how choosing the right companies and services can help your practice to be more green.

The concept of “greener dentistry” is nothing new. In fact, there has been a huge focus on encouraging practices to adopt a more eco-friendly approach in recent years, especially surrounding ideas such as reducing the amount of single-use plastics used or saving on energy bills.

However, the idea of greener dentistry can go much further, and once you’ve improved your green credentials in practice, it’s also important to look towards the companies and services you work with to see if they are providing eco-friendly options.

Is the lab you work with a green machine?
The dental laboratory you work with is likely one of the most important relationships for your practice. After all, without good communication and trust between both parties, it’s unlikely that you are working in synchronicity and achieving the best outcomes possible.

As such, it’s a good idea to speak to them about their green credentials and see if there are any ways that you can work together to help protect the environment. For example, if you are still using physical impressions and sending them to the lab, you need to consider the carbon footprint this process entails, let alone the often non-recyclable packaging that will end up in landfill. A switch to digital impressions can completely eliminate the excess waste from this process and bring other benefits to both parties too, such as a streamlined, faster treatment and better communication.

You can also ask what green credentials your laboratory has in place. Do they use recyclable packaging when sending out products? How about their delivery service (if applicable) – are they using eco-friendly vehicles or fuel? If you think your laboratory could go greener it is definitely worth discussing it with them, especially as taking a more environmentally friendly route is likely to help both your practice and the lab you work with to draw in more business.

Are suppliers being sustainable?
It’s likely that you have more than one supplier that provides you with materials and products you need in order to run a safe, effective dental practice. Whether you get your infection control products from one company and your PPE from another, or use products from multiple different manufacturers and buy directly from them, this means that you are adding to your wider carbon footprint with excess transport and packaging that could be reduced.

A good way to proceed is to look if there is a source where you can source the majority of the products you need from one place. This will cut down the number of necessary deliveries and the packaging used. It’s also an opportunity to look at the green credentials of the products and the suppliers themselves. Is the packaging of your composite recyclable? Do the suppliers wrap products in biodegradable materials for transit?

Limiting waste can be as easy as exploring the options, and many manufacturers and suppliers will state their green credentials on their websites. This means that you can also experiment with using different, greener alternatives to items you already order. For example, even a switch from using gloves that come in a non-recyclable box to ones that do can make a big difference over time.

Make sure your maintenance and breakdown services are eco-friendly companies
System maintenance and breakdown repairs are an essential service for dental practices to have ­­– but are you using companies that prioritise a greener approach?

Much like suppliers, maintenance and breakdown cover specialists will likely list their green credentials on their website, helping you to make an informed choice. It is, however, a good idea to explore these credentials and see what they mean in terms of service. For example, do these services use ethically sourced products or have sustainable business plans in place?

For air compressor maintenance and repair, DentalAir provides a green approach. Not only are the air compressors the team fit bacteria and pollution free, but DentalAir is committed to purchasing recycled or ethically sourced goods wherever possible and continually works with its supply chain to minimise its carbon footprint.

A greener practice, a greener planet
At the end of the day, becoming more eco-friendly isn’t just about focusing on your practice, but also looking at the businesses that interact with your practice which are essential to its operation.

By thinking outside the box and implementing more eco-friendly approaches where possible, you can make a considerable difference to your impact on the environment. Work with others to reduce waste, plastic use and your carbon footprint.