More than 1 million disposable coffee cups were purchased in Parliament last year, latest figures reveal, as campaigners urge politicians to ditch single-use plastic.
Despite Theresa May launching her 25-year plan in a bid to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042, large quantities of disposable plastic are still being purchased in Parliament.
Plastic straws, coffee cups, condiment sachets, plastic cutlery and disposable plastic water bottles are among the items still widely-used.
In total, more than 2 million avoidable single-use plastic items were purchased by the House of Commons and the House of Lords in 2017.
Plastic cutlery was the second most-purchased item after coffee cups, with a total of 398,000 being bought in Parliament.
Soft drink bottles accounted for 200,584 of the single-use plastic items purchased, with 193,050 coming from the House of Commons.
Environmental campaigners have urged the prime minister to lead by example in the war on plastic.
Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), who obtained the figures through a Freedom of Information request, said that an immediate latte levy on disposable plastics could help reduce the number of products used.
SAS also urged MPs to bring in their own reusable cup to combat waste and have launched the Plastic Free Parliament campaign.
Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage said: “The engine to drive the war on plastic waste is in the Palace of Westminster where our elected politicians can pass progressive new legislation to decouple society from its addiction to avoidable, single-use plastics.
“They must also set an example in refusing avoidable plastics, and send a strong message to the world from a Plastic Free Parliament.
“We hope all Members of Parliament and Peers will join us to call for a phase out of throwaway plastics to get their Houses in order.”
Surfers Against Sewage has written to the speaker of the House of Commons to request that Parliament takes urgent action on plastic.
Conservative MP Steve Double said: “There are many steps we can take as consumers to reduce the amount of single use disposable plastics we use.
“Members of Parliament, as community and national leaders, have our own role to play in raising awareness and setting an example on this important matter.
“That is why I am pleased to be working with Surfers Against Sewage and others to bring forward the Plastic Free Parliament Campaign and reduce the amount of plastic that gets used and thrown away on the Parliamentary estate.”
Labour MP Kerry McCarthy added “The recent series of Blue Planet II has brought to public attention the serious damage plastic is causing to our marine life and habitats.
“Pressure is rightly growing on all of us to take action to reduce our plastic footprint.
“It is time for Parliament to not only get its own house in order, but take a lead on ambitious action to end its use of throwaway plastic”.
A House of Commons spokesperson said: “The House of Commons is committed to reducing the amount of waste across the parliamentary estate including plastic and operate a mixed recycling scheme to ensure as much as possible of our waste is recycled.”
A House of Lords spokesperson said: “Our catering and retail service is already taking steps to reduce the number of disposable plastic products it uses. It is currently reviewing which suppliers offer the most ethical and cost-effective disposable products (including straws). All hot beverage cups are made from recycled materials and it is encouraging customers to use their own cups by offering them a 10p discount.
“The catering and retail service gives preference to products that come from renewable sources and it was recently accredited by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. It will work with the association to implement innovative solutions for reducing the number of disposable products.”
SAS and campaign partners #OneLess are also calling on Parliament to review their water infrastructure and ensure free reliable water points are located within easy access locations throughout buildings to encourage refilling water bottles and reduce the need for single-use bottles.
Earlier this week it was revealed that councils are stockpiling rubbish after China banned importing plastic waste.