Millions of disposable cups used by Wigan hospitals

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
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Hospital bosses say they are “working hard” to reduce the amount of disposable cups being used in the borough’s health facilities, after new figures revealed over seven million were used in the last five years.

The Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Trust has purchased 7,351,500 of the single-use drinks containers since 2013, one of the highest amounts in the North West.

The Wrightington Hospital tea bar used solid china mugs to serve up hot drinks

The Wrightington Hospital tea bar used solid china mugs to serve up hot drinks

In comparison, Warrington and Halton Hospitals Trust bought just over three million in the same period, and St Helens and Knowsley bought 2.997m.

The Manchester University trust was the highest purchaser of disposable cups in the North West, having bought 8,536,375 between 2013 and 2017.

The highest amount purchased by a single NHS Trust was a staggering 29,805,820, by Guy’s and St Thomas’ in South London.

In a bid to reduce the volume of waste created by the throwaway cups, some NHS patients are being served tea and coffee in china cups instead.

Several trusts have stopped using disposable cups altogether when serving hot drinks to patients on wards.

China cups have already been in use at one borough hospital over the past few decades, thanks to the former tea bar at Wrightington Hospital.

The tea bar was run for more than thirty years by volunteers from the Wrightington League of Friends, and used china mugs to provide hot refreshments to patients and visitors.

The service was axed in late March after decades of service, to be replaced by a new café which will be privately run by the Trust, and is set to introduce takeaway coffee cups.

A spokesman for the WWL said: “For many years now Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust has used a mixture of crockery cups and mugs as well as disposable items.

“Our decision to use a mixture of both was part of our aim to reduce our total environmental impact, as part of our Good Corporate Citizenship, and have a positive influence towards patient well-being.

“At WWL we are working hard to reduce the amount and cost of waste disposal at all our sites, whilst at the same time increasing the level of recycling.

“Examples of this are our investment in baler machines for cardboard recycling, compactors for general waste, trio bins for the recycling of plastics, cardboard, tins etc. for both the general public and staff to use.

“In 2017/18 WWL changed domestic waste contractors. The new contractor segregates the waste off-site at their transfer station and recycles as much waste as possible.

This service has increased the Trust’s recycling figures, with 160 tonnes recycled in 2017/18, 93 tonnes more than the last financial year.

They added: “The Trust continues to maintain a ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’ commitment, whilst reducing our Carbon Emissions by utilising local companies.”

Retailers have also joined the campaign to reduce the amount of waste being created.

Supermarket Waitrose announced yesterday that it will be removing all throwaway coffee cups from its stores, starting later this month.