A greener approach

by Mark Knight

Healthcare Finance comment, 05 November 2019


HFMA chief executive Mark Knight highlights steps the association is taking to reduce its environmental impact

You may have noticed something different about your magazine this month. It now comes in a smart envelope and the paper has lost that plastic shimmer of the past 20 or so years.

We have moved to a printer that holds EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) accreditation – one of only 10 in the UK to do so – and the magazine is now printed using 100% renewable energy and chemistry-free plates, with low levels of waste going to landfill. We’re also printing it on Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) standard paper, which means the paper is manufactured from wood from FSC-certified forests, recycled material, or controlled wood.

We considered several types of wrapping. Many of you will have seen the potato starch ‘bag’ used by the National Trust for its magazine, but we decided against this for a number of reasons. A key practical issue was that we are aware that when most of you open your magazine, you’re at work. It’s not clear what facilities are in workplaces to dispose of that type of packaging – many wrappers could just end up in the waste bin – but paper recycling exists in virtually every office, so a recyclable paper envelope seemed the right approach.

We’ve also moved our print and magazine wrapping operation to one location. That saves us time, but more importantly we don’t need to move the magazine from one location to another – reducing carbon emissions.

We should save about 0.5 tonnes of carbon a year. That’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but isn’t that how change happens? Lots and lots of people and organisations making small adjustments.

You shouldn’t see any differences in the content. You’ve told us in our member surveys that you value the magazine and we strive to preserve that. Let us know what you think about what we’ve done by tweeting @HFMA_UK or emailing me at chiefexec@hfma.org.uk.

At the upcoming annual conference we will be making more changes to improve our environmental performance, including providing all delegates with a fully recyclable, reusable cup.

We are now in the final run-in to our biggest event of the year – our 69th event and my 20th as chief executive. Once again, our team has excelled, with a fine collection of speakers from the NHS, including the leading people, operations and medical officers. Julian Kelly, the new NHS chief financial officer, will be there too to give his first annual conference address.

In terms of personal development, on the Thursday, we will hear from Matthew Syed, whose book on ‘black box thinking’ challenges us to learn from our mistakes.

Talking of which, you don’t completely escape Brexit. Regardless of your view on leave/remain, few could argue the process that has brought us to our current situation has been a success. If anyone is well placed to offer an insight into the lessons learned, it is our closing speaker – BBC European editor Katya Adler. It will be fascinating to get a perspective from her on the events in Europe over the past couple of years.

The conference will also bring to an end Bill Gregory’s presidency and introduce our 70th leader, Caroline Clarke. Her theme will be challenging and I’m sure you will all get behind it as we celebrate 70 years of this great association.