Intended for healthcare professionals

How green is The BMJ?

The BMJ is committed to reducing its environmental impact across all the areas in which it operates. As a medical journal, we are profoundly concerned with the environmental determinants of health and with the health consequences of environmental damage and neglect. Our editor-in-chief, Dr Fiona Godlee was one of the founders of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change. Our publisher, BMJ, shares our industry’s commitment to making our business more environmentally sustainable. BMJ’s Green Team brings representatives of every department together every month to identify new initiatives in any area of our activity that might improve sustainability. So keep returning to this page for updates.

The BMJ print editions: greener paper

The BMJ is not produced from trees grown solely for the purpose of being chopped down and turned into paper. In printing the weekly journal, we use only paper created from the waste left over by Sweden’s environmentally-friendly home building industry, which typically replaces environmentally-damaging concrete pillars and cement blocks with wooden beams and planks. Roughly 25% of The BMJ’s paper comes from the forest ‘thinnings’, the young trees identified as unlikely to produce construction grade timber and therefore rooted out, leaving more space for the healthier specimens to grow larger, for 90 years. But the bulk (75% of the wood pulp) comes from the chips and shavings left over from the making of construction timbers. The new paper created in this way for The BMJ can be recycled into fresh paper up to seven times, before typically being turned into biofuel products for instance. The paper mills producing The BMJ’s paper are highly energy-efficient, and have reduced fossil fuel usage by 80% in the last decade by substituting with energy from hydroelectric sources and renewable biofuel, half of which is generated on-site at the mill.

The BMJ print editions: greener wrapping

We replaced the original polythene wrapping of our print journals with a fully-recyclable alternative, and continue to explore potentially greener alternatives like paper or vegetable starch wrapping, although it is not yet clear which option is greenest. With more than 5 million copies of The BMJ alone distributed annually, BMJ’s support for innovative wrapping materials and processes can potentially make a significant contribution to our goal.

BMJ, the company which publishes The BMJ, is determined to reduce its environmental footprint still further, and has introduced many other measures, some of which are captured in the timeline below.

• Follow-me printing introduced (late 2013)
• Removing waste bins at individuals’ desks (2015)
• BMA created Corporate Health and Sustainability Group (CHSG) (Jan 2016)
• Introduced ‘Cycle to work’ scheme, incentivising cycle commuting with ~30% savings
• Switched to only 100% recycled paper in all our office printers and copiers (2017)
• Adopted recyclable wrapping for The BMJ (Sept 2017)
• Office gym introduced, enabling cycling and reducing short car journeys (2018)
• Working only with marketing suppliers who minimise delivery packaging (2019)
• Phasing out one-use cutlery and food packaging in our staff canteen (Jan 2019)
• Single Use Plastic policy introduced 2019
• BMA House Green Audit 2019
• Currently investigating potential to carbon-offset business travel