Leeds NHS trust buys 12m disposable cups over five years as providers across England purchase more than 600m

Consumers could be charged a 25p "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups
Consumers could be charged a 25p "latte levy" on disposable coffee cups
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The main NHS trust in Leeds bought more than 12.7m disposable cups over the last five years, new figures show.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust was the second worst offender in Yorkshire, behind its Sheffield counterpart, and was among the 14 trusts in England which bought more than 10m cups each.

Across England, health providers bought more than 600m disposable cups since 2013, data obtained through freedom of information requests by the Press Association showed.

Based on the latest population estimates, the total works out as 11 for every person currently living in the country.

It comes amid increasing alarm over the environmental impact of throwaway items and significant Government moves to crack down on single use plastics.

Plastic, foam and paper cups are used across the health service from waiting rooms to wards, for hot drinks, cold drinks and dispensing medicines.

While some can be readily recycled others are considerably harder to recycle - such as plastic-lined coffee cups or polystyrene.

In some settings there will be clinical reasons behind the use of single use cups - such as avoiding the use of glass in some mental health wards.

Earlier this year England’s chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said the NHS - one of the world’s largest employers - was a “significant polluter” and should cut its environmental impact.

Commenting on the figures, 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.”

Liberal Democrat ex-Health Minister Norman Lamb, said: “Just like the rest of us, NHS leaders should crack down on these wasteful purchases by encouraging the use of reusable cups wherever possible.”

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