Wales

56 million single-use cups bought by Welsh public bodies

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Media captionAt least 56 million single-use cups have been bought by public bodies in Wales since 2013.

At least 56 million single-use cups have been bought by public bodies in Wales over the past five years, costing about £1.7m, new figures have shown.

Hospitals, councils and government organisations have said they were trying to reduce a throwaway culture.

But data showed the number of disposable cups bought increased by about 10% between 2013 and 2018.

Environment minister Hannah Blythyn said action must be taken to reduce waste.

Twenty-seven out of 57 public sector organisations in Wales, such as hospitals and councils, told BBC Wales how many single-use paper and plastic cups they had bought over the previous five years.

It is estimated about 600 million throwaway cups in total were used in Wales over the same period.

More than 99.75% of used cups in the UK do not get recycled.

Blackwood-based Seda UK is one of the UK's leading manufacturers of paper cups.

Paul Synnott, the managing director of Seda and a spokesman for the Paper Cup Alliance, said governments should make it easier for people to recycle them.

"Coffee can be an impulse purchase, people consume it on the go, but if you don't have your cup with you how can you consume... Those cups then need to be captured and recycled," he said.

The Welsh assembly told BBC Wales it saw a 20% rise over the past five years in the number of disposable cups it bought.

A spokesman said it would switch away from single-use plastic cups in September and use compostable and recyclable cups instead.

The Welsh Government did not provide figures for how many disposable cups it had bought.

Image caption People recycling paper cups in Swansea

Ms Blythyn said: "It is very important for the Welsh Government that we get our own house in order which is why our offices will be single-use plastics free by 2021."

BBC Wales, which said it could only provide information for the past four years, purchased 48,000 throwaway cups and said the use of plastic cups would be scrapped by the end of this year.

A number of councils in Wales are considering becoming plastic free after BBC documentary Blue Planet II raised concerns about the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans.

Currently, some councils accept paper cups and other cartons such as juice boxes in kerbside recycling, or they can be taken to 41 recycling depots across the country.

Thomas Williams, a recycling officer for Swansea council, said despite an advertising campaign, many people still did not know that their cups could be recycled.

"Previous to January people didn't have any option [but] to put their paper cups into black bags which means it gets buried in landfill," he said.

"We just ask people if they are able to perhaps save them up and bring them when they are at the site with other items."

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