Shropshire’s two main hospitals switch to ‘greener’ drinking straws

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Biodegradable drinking straws are to be used at Shropshire’s two main hospitals as environmental concern grows over the amount of plastic pollution.

Catering Operations Manager Ian Stuart with the new biodegradable drinking straws
Catering Operations Manager Ian Stuart with the new biodegradable drinking straws

The straws will be available, when required, at the Caffe Bistro outlets and the canteens at both the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford.

The straws are for use with drinks such as smoothies, and also for children and patients with swallowing difficulties.

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust catering team has been investigating alternatives to traditional plastic straws as concern grows over the amount of plastic pollution which cannot degrade once disposed of. The biodegradable straws, being used by the Trust, start to degrade once in contact with heat, moisture and bacteria and within a few months are broken down, leading to complete degradation.

There have been increasing calls from environmentalists for businesses to ditch plastic straws, which can harm marine wildlife such as turtles and fish.

An online campaign, Refuse The Straw, calls on people to reject straws and start drinking from the glass. Green campaigners also want wider efforts to crack down on rising levels of plastic waste, from tiny shreds to drinks bottles and fishing gear, which is polluting the oceans and coasts, an issue most recently highlighted in the BBC’s Blue Planet II series.

Nick Parkin, Senior Catering Manager at SaTH, said: “We use around 8,000 straws a year across the Trust, so it was important to find a greener solution. We believe that the new biodegradable straws will make a difference, and have come at no extra cost to the Trust.”

Julia Clarke, Director of Corporate Governance and Executive Lead for Sustainability at SaTH, said: “SaTH is committed to being a ‘good corporate citizen’ and we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously. We are committed to looking for ways to reduce our impact on the environment now and in the future not just with regards to waste, but also on other issues including energy and travel.”

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