It’s the buzzword of the last decade. It seems like everywhere you look, people are talking about how to reduce emissions and save energy.
Despite all the hype, effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint can be found in the most unlikely of places.
In fact, new data from Pasport-Photo.online reveal that HM Passport Office’s roll-out of a paperless passport application service has had a substantial, positive effect on the environment.
Based on their research, the digital passport application tool helped save an estimated 1,864 trees in 2022 alone, conserving over 3,540,947 litres of water and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 70,223 kg.
Scroll down to learn more.
Online Passport Applications Are Gaining Momentum
HM Passport Office piloted the digital passport application service in 2016.
Since then, many British nationals have used the online platform. So much so that in 2022, the number of people who chose the digital routes dwarfed the paper ones.
How does UK-Passport-Photo.com know?
They reached out to His Majesty’s Passport Office and received the data for the number of people who applied for a UK passport by all passport routes* from 1 January 2021 to 30 September 2022** under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Here are the data for 2021:
- UK Digital Application service: 3,634,897
- Post Office Digital Application service: 201,479
- Post Office Tablet Application service: 18,672
- UK counter: 196,582
- Post Office check and send: 263,762
- UK Postal: 174,458
And here are the most relevant figures for 2022 (January – September):
- UK Digital Application service: 5,658,233
- Post Office Digital Application service: 61,513
- Post Office Tablet Application service: 272,081
- UK counter: 376,107
- Post Office check and send: 276,581
- UK Postal: 173,613
These figures have been taken from a live operational database. As such, numbers may change as information on that system is updated.
As you can see, the digital service is WAY more popular than the paper one.
Of 6,818,128 passport applications from 1 January 2022 to 30 September 2022, 6,339,675 were made without paper forms.
It’s hard to blame anyone for going digital. It’s safe, secure, and, more importantly, less of a hassle. Plus, with this route comes a more profound benefit: environmental sustainability.
More on that in the next section.
How HM Passport Office’s Paperless Approach Benefits the Environment
Did you know?
Producing paper requires a considerable number of trees, chemicals, and water. Plus, it creates pollution in the form of carbon emissions and waste.
In fact, a single A4 sheet of paper requires the following:
- An average of 0.24 litres of water (assuming the paper isn’t recycled).
- 0.000125 of trees (one tree = 8K sheets).
- An emission of 0.00471 kg of carbon dioxide.
With this in mind, UK-Passport-Photo.com set out to estimate how much paper Britons saved by using the online passport application service in 2022.
To do it, they first projected how many additional passport applications were likely to be made between 1 October and 31 December 2022, as these data were missing from HM Passport Office’s original dataset. In the end, they estimated there were about 8,028,522 passport applications. Of those, 7,454,624 were made online, and 573,898 were in paper form.
Then, they took the number of digital applications and multiplied it by two*** to arrive at the number of paper sheets saved thanks to the online application service:
Thus, people in the United Kingdom saved 14,909,249 A4 sheets of paper by picking digital application routes in 2022. To put it into perspective, it’s enough paper to cover more than half of London’s entire surface with one layer.
Moving along, UK-Passport-Photo.com wanted to put a number on the environmental savings related to water, trees, and CO2. The results are in:
14,909,249 × 0.24 = 3,540,947 l
0.24 is the water needed to produce one A4 sheet of paper.
14,909,249 × 0.000125 = 1,864
0.000125 is how many trees it takes to manufacture an A4 paper sheet.
14,909,249 × 0.00471 = 70,223 kg
0.00471 is the amount of carbon dioxide it takes to produce an A4 sheet of paper (assuming the paper isn’t recycled).
Stacking It All Up
The results are telling:
HM Passport Office’s online passport application tool helped save an estimated 1,864 trees in 2022, conserving over 3,540,947 litres of water and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 70,223 kg.
That’s a massive environmental success for just one year. Hopefully, this trend will continue, with more and more people going digital in 2023 and beyond.