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Newborn Care Unit goes polystyrene-free

This article is more than five years old.

Neonatal staff at Oxford University Hospitals have banned polystyrene cups from their department to reduce waste and raise money for Support for Sick Newborn and their Parents (SSNAP), which supports sick and premature babies from across the Thames Valley.

Staff members, parents and visitors at Oxford Newborn Care Unit (also known as the Neonatal Unit) based at the John Radcliffe Hospital, can now buy eco-friendly water bottles and bamboo coffee mugs as alternatives to single-use polystyrene cups.

The move towards a more sustainable future was inspired by a staff member who, having joined Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust last year, wanted to encourage others to be more mindful of the environment.

Dr Claire Roome, a paediatric trainee who led the waste-reducing project, said: "Our Newborn Care Unit delivers world class neonatal care and it seemed natural to make this simple change to help protect the world that these babies will grow up in."

The unit uses 96,000 polystyrene cups a year - the equivalent of 1,000 bags of rubbish - and the switch towards a more sustainable future will save £5,000.

The launch, on Thursday 16 August 2018, coincided with a self-styled environmental awareness day.

The cups have been replaced with reusable SSNAP branded Ecoffee Cup mugs and bobble water bottles.

The coffee cups cost £8 to buy on the unit for staff and parents. They are also available to buy online for £12.

The water bottles are £10 in person and online. Visit to make your purchase.

Emma Cantrell, SSNAP Charity Director, said: "We are proud to be encouraging staff, parents and our supporters to reduce their impact on the environment.

"We believe that our investment in state-of-the-art equipment, research and excellent staff on the Newborn Care Unit should be mirrored by a commitment to reducing the harm we do to the environment."

She added: "For every coffee cup we sell we will be placing a reusable cup in the unit for parents and staff to use."

SSNAP also bought 150 reusable mugs last month specifically for parents.

Oxford-based The Nappy Shed, which sells reusable nappies, attended the launch, and there was a sample set and special discount code for Cheeky Wipes, a reusable baby wipe company. Oxford City Council was also present to offer advice and information on reducing, reusing and recycling waste.

In other moves to reduce waste across the Trust, Oxford Hospitals Charity, which helps fund equipment, research and training, is giving away 700 ceramic mugs, including at the Children's Hospital and the Horton General Hospital.

Joe Baker, from the charity, said: "Being able to provide mugs for waiting rooms, staff rooms and parents' rooms across the hospitals is a really great way to help the environment - and of letting people know about our charity and how we are making a difference across our hospitals."

Retailers are also helping out, with the League of Friends coffee shops on Levels 1 and 2 of the John Radcliffe Hospital, Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger offering discounts (10p, 25p and 50p respectively) to customers who use reusable cups.

Around 1,200 tonnes of waste is recycled by Oxford University Hospitals each year: nothing goes to landfill.