Hospitals are said to be considering turning to china crockery following a report stating the NHS has used more than 600 million disposable cups in the last five years.
Last month the chief medical officer – Prof Dame Sally Davies, said that in 2016/17, NHS providers in England created 590,000 tonnes of waste – more than the entire municipal waste from some European countries like Cyprus and Luxembourg.
Martin Kersh, executive director of the Foodservice Packaging Association, said while accumulated figures covering the five year period would seem dramatic, as the world’s fifth largest employer, the NHS had to cater for 16.2 million hospital admissions, to which visitors, carers and NHS staff are added making for almost 20 million people visiting a hospital annually.
The figures cover both paper and plastic cups – some of which are used to enable medication.
Kersh said the NHS has an obligation to offer the taxpayer best value and disposables play a very important role in achieving this. Alternatives such as china are heavier and require energy, chemicals and an average five gallons of water per washing cycle as well labour to carry to this out.
“Single use cups in the NHS are the most cost efficient option and can all be recycled. The industry is working hard to encourage recovery and recycling of all used packaging items in the NHS and many of the Trusts’ waste management operators are willing to work with the NHS to collect and recycle cups which, for example, could be sent to ACE UK’s plant. We would like to see more collaboration across the NHS to reduce waste and increase recycling of all the packaging it procures.”