Oyster branded super-green Smartcard

London's Oyster card system is saving a huge amount of paper waste and is an environmental asset to the UK, Transport for London (TfL) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) have stated.

Around 100,000 less paper tickets have been sold every day since the Oyster Smartcard was introduced in May 2003, amounting to savings of approximately 32 million paper tickets each year.

One paper ticket is 8.5cm long, so laid end to end, this annual saving adds up to 2,720km – more than six and a half times the distance covered by the entire London Underground network.

Managing director of finance and planning at TfL, Jay Walder, said the organisation predicted that over 3 million people would be using Oyster cards by mid-2005.

“This significant reduction in paper waste is just one more example of the wider benefits Oyster is bringing to London,” Mr Walder commented. “Nearly 3 million journeys are made every weekday with the Oyster card system, making it a world leader in Smartcard ticketing.”

Recycling campaigner for FoE, Claire Wilton, agreed that the system had been a huge success – environmentally and otherwise.

“London’s waste has grown by more than 10% in the last five years, so efforts to reduce it are very welcome. Avoiding the use of paper in tickets means that fewer trees will be felled, helping to preserve wildlife habitats around the world,” she said.

Although this system is still a long way from being implemented nation-wide, a spokesperson from the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) told edie that discussions were underway to expand a Smartcard system outside of London.

“A similar system called ITSO is currently being trialled in York and Merseyside,” she said. “But expanding the Oyster card outside of the capital is definitely something we are considering for the future.”

By Jane Kettle

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