SCOTLAND’S NHS has purchased more than 189 million single-use plastic cups in the space of five years, it has been revealed.

Figures show health boards are buying the equivalent of one disposable cup every second – at a cost of £1.7m since 2014.

It comes despite SNP efforts to reduce the amount of plastic being used in Scotland amid concerns over the impact on the environment.

Scottish Tory shadow environment secretary Maurice Golden accused the Government of lecturing others without taking concrete action.

He said: “As ever with the SNP, it talks a good game on reducing single-use plastic, but never matches it with action. Under its control, health boards are buying a disposable cup every single second, costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds and damaging the environment in the process.

“An imaginative government would have designed a Scotland-wide contract to replace these with more environmentally friendly options.”

A Freedom of Information request by the Scottish Tories revealed 36.5 million plastic cups were purchased by health boards in the last financial year alone. Greater Glasgow and Clyde bought a third of these.

The number of plastic cups being purchased across Scotland fell slightly last year, but has remained relatively steady in the five years for which figures are available.

Earlier this year, it emerged the Scottish Government goes through a single-use plastic cup every minute.

NHS bosses in Glasgow said they plan to ban all non-recyclable cups by 2023, and had introduced a range of initiatives, including refillable ‘keep cups’ at cafes.

A spokeswoman said: “Polypropylene cups – readily recyclable and with a lower carbon impact than paper-based or compostable-plastic based equivalents – have been trialled to replace the current take-away cups and will be phased in shortly as the carry-out alternative.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said it would “encourage all public sector organisations to consider how they can reduce the single use plastics they currently use”.

He said an expert panel has been set up to advise on Scotland’s “throw-away culture”, while single-use cups have already been banned from the main Government buildings.

A spokeswoman for NHS National Services Scotland said it is committed to reducing single-use items. She added: “We have recently phased out disposable plastic drinking cups from our NSS corporate offices and have instead provided reusable drinking cups.”

She said the NHS is working to boost the sustainability of its supply chain by specifying products that are designed for re-use and recycling.