Paper Cuts: Blue Cross Scales Back on Paper Use for the Good of the Planet

by bcbsm

| 3 min read

Blue Cross Blue Shield Earth Day Sustainability Paper Recycling
Everyone has an important role in environmental conservation efforts. At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, we’ve taken this responsibility seriously for years and have dedicated considerable resources toward implementing day-to-day practices that help the environment in Michigan and beyond. A core group of employees known as the “Go Green” group has promoted corporate and individual responsibility for resource conservation over the course of the past 10 years. From composting and solar energy farming to rainwater collection and eco-friendly parking garages, we have a number of green initiatives in place aimed at helping the planet. One of our most important is reducing the use of plastic and paper across our campuses. Paper, specifically, is a resource vital to most businesses, but there are tricks to scaling back the amount used. In the past year alone, Blue Cross’ secure paper recycling (a special process in place to protect personal health information and meet HIPPA privacy standards) collected and shred more than 1,150 tons of paper. That’s the average weight of more than 2,300 cars! For Recycling Analyst Regina Holmes, who supports the company’s facilities and support services, disposing of resources properly is not only a team effort, but a finely tuned process. “Everyone has to work hand-in-hand across the enterprise to make our recycling processes work effectively. All employees work together to make sure the right materials go to the right places, especially in-sync with our facilities management and cleaning services teams who handle the recycled materials directly,” Holmes said. By using electronic files and cutting back on printing, Blue Cross employees have preserved 19,351 trees in the past year. A print reduction campaign easily mimicked at other organizations helped reduce printed resources by 17 percent year-over-year, with a nearly 35 percent reduction in color printing. In addition to paper, Blue Cross has made other major environmental strides in the past year alone:
  • 31,611,653 gallons of water conserved
  • 2,606,338 kilowatt hours typically used by mills to make new paper retained by conservation efforts (the equivalent of running your air conditioning for nearly 637 years straight!)
  • Employees collectively prevented creation of 1,669,901 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions
  • 5,766 cubic yards of landfill space conserved based on waste reduction
If you’re a member and want to use less paper, consider opting into paperless explanation of benefit statements or using your online member portal for updates rather than hard-copy versions. Every little bit counts! How else are you environmentally conscious? Let us know in the comments! If you’ve liked this post, you may also want to read:
Photo credit: Lindsay Holmwood

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