Page last updated at 01:22 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 02:22 UK

Whitehall green drive 'saves 7m'

An office worker typing
Whitehall's PCs are expected to live longer these days

The government has saved £7m in the last year by making its departments greener, the Cabinet Office says.

Changes made include using double-sided printing, turning off computers at night and extending the life of PCs.

Cabinet Office minister Angela Smith said reforms had "saved enough carbon dioxide to fill almost 2,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools".

Whitehall has previously been criticised for failing to improve its environmental performance.

Government departments were asked last year to take "key steps" to make their offices more efficient.

'Taking action'

Among the efforts made, the Crown Prosecution Service said it had saved £2.35m by deciding to replace PCs every five, rather than three, years.

The Department for Work and Pensions estimates it will use 200 million fewer sheets of paper a year by cutting its number of printers and setting the remaining machines to use both sides of each sheet.

Ms Smith said: "Information technology is one of the hidden causes of climate change. Worldwide, computers are responsible for the same amount of carbon emissions as the airline industry, but few people are taking action to improve the situation.

"A year ago the British government became the first in the world to set tough targets to tackle the huge environmental and financial costs of computer use and I'm delighted to see the real progress that has been made...

"All departments have risen to the challenge of cutting their IT carbon footprints and countries from around the world are now looking to us for advice on how to follow our lead. But it's not just about the government.

"I hope that private companies and individuals will also recognise the savings that can be made and get on board."

A report in 2007 by the Sustainable Development Commission found government departments had failed to meet targets on cutting carbon emissions, waste and water use.

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