South Tyneside hospital trust’s vow after a million plastic cups bought in five years

Disposable cups are being used in their millions by NHS trusts in the UK.
Disposable cups are being used in their millions by NHS trusts in the UK.

More than one million disposable cups were bought by the NHS in South Tyneside over the last five years, new figures show.

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust has vowed to review its use of plastic cups and cups with a plastic lining after the numbers were released.

Many of the cups will have been used at South Tyneside District Hospital.

Many of the cups will have been used at South Tyneside District Hospital.

They will instead look to introduce cups made solely of cardboard or sustainable materials in the future.

Steve Jamieson, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s director of estates and facilities, said: “We fully recognise that to continue to deliver our excellent patient-focused healthcare services, both now and long into the future, we need to be sustainable in our use of resources.

“As part of the trust’s sustainability strategy, we are already reviewing the use of plastic cups and cups with a plastic lining with the aim of replacing them with cups made solely of cardboard or a combination of sustainable materials.”

It comes after it was revealed that the NHS in England has purchased more than half a billion disposable cups over the last five years.

We are already reviewing the use of plastic cups and cups with a plastic lining with the aim of replacing them with cups made solely of cardboard or a combination of sustainable materials

Steve Jamieson

Data obtained through Freedom of Information requests by the Press Association show that NHS trusts in England have purchased more than 600 million disposable cups since 2013.

The total number of cups bought by South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust between 2013-14 and 2017-18 was 1,035,650.

There are rising concerns about the environmental impact of single-use throwaway items, and Greenpeace UK has said the national figure demonstrates “just how out of control our relationship with single-use plastic has become”.

Based on the latest population estimates, the number equates to 11 disposable cups for every person living in England.

A total of 223 NHS acute, mental health and community provider trusts were asked to supply information on the number of disposable drinking cups they had purchased in each year for the last five years.

Of those contacted, 196 responded, but six were omitted from the data due to discrepancies within their responses.

Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “We all know we’re using far too much throwaway plastic, but these huge figures demonstrate just how out of control our relationship with single-use plastic has become.

“In the last five years the health service has used half a billion disposable cups - they can’t all be captured and recycled, so it’s time for the government to step in and help suppliers find viable solutions.”