NHS Single-Use Plastics Reduction Campaign Pledge

Closed 16 Mar 2020

Opened 19 Sep 2019


Publishing approval reference number: 000894

Between 2013 and 2018, NHS services across England used more than 600 million disposable cups and millions of other disposable cutlery pieces, as well as many other avoidable single-use clinical and non-clinical plastic items. While much NHS plastic waste is already recovered for recycling or energy from waste we are still a significant contributor to the 34 billion tonnes of plastic that will pollute our natural environment by 2050. 

We are asking all providers, retailers and suppliers to the NHS, as well as a number of partner organisations, to sign up to a plastic reduction pledge. Through the scheme, signatories commit to:

  • By April 2020, no longer purchase single-use plastic stirrers and straws, except where a person has a specific need, in line with the government consultation
  • By April 2021, no longer purchase single-use plastic cutlery, plates or single-use cups made of expanded polystyrene or oxo-degradable plastics
  • By April 2021, go beyond these commitments in reducing single-use plastic food containers and other plastic cups for beverages – including covers and lids

In addition, we ask trusts, retailers and suppliers that have signed the pledge to provide NHS England and NHS Improvement with four data-submissions on the volumes of single-use plastic catering items purchased.

Submission point

Time period for data to cover (financial year)

February 2020 Q1 to Q4 2018/19
May 2020 Q1 to Q4 2019/20
November 2020 Q1 and Q2 2020/21
April 2021 Q3 and Q4 2020/21

Over time, where clinically appropriate, we will look further at reducing plastics waste from our most common clinical products such as gloves, gowns and hygiene products. We will also work with our supply chain on plastic packaging.

Making this pledge and providing the evidence requested will help demonstrate how organisations have made progress in minimising the use of plastics, as required by the 2019/20 NHS Standard Contract.

The NHS is well placed to lead by example in supporting government commitments to eliminate avoidable plastic waste, and we ask that organisations work with their operational teams, stakeholders, and suppliers during 19/20, and confirm this commitment by signing the pledge using the link at the bottom of this page.

More detail is available below, including case studies from NHS organisations who have already eliminated their use of these items.

We ask that organisations confirm two points of contact for sustainable development within their organisation when they sign up to the pledge:

  1. A senior responsible officer (Director level)
  2. A sustainable development lead for your organisation

Please sign the pledge via the link below by 16 March 2020.

NHS England and NHS Improvement will hold information you provide in the pledge and use it to communicate with you about the programme.

Please email england.plastics@nhs.net if you have any further questions.

Supporting documents

Update: Environmental Protection (Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers) (England) Regulations 2020 has now been published. If enacted Plastic Straws, Cotton Buds and Stirrers, except for specific needs, would be banned from sale and use.


  • Foundation trusts
  • Mental health trusts
  • Community healthcare trusts


  • Commissioning