There has been a huge shift recently in the hospitality industry’s attitude towards single use plastic straws. Estimates show that the UK uses approximately 8.5 billion plastic straws per year. Straws are said to be among the top 10 waste items found on beaches, and can take at least 200 years to decompose!
Most recently, leading UK hospitality supplies company, Smart Hospitality Supplies, have replaced their offering of plastic straws with multi-use and paper straws and have even adopted an eco-friendly range of their extremely popular menu covers. The news comes at the same time as the announcement that other industry leading companies are looking to ditch their plastic straws too.
The Deltic Group (the UK’s largest operator of bars and nightclubs) have recently proposed that they will distribute guidelines to their staff to ensure that current straws and plastics are recycled properly, whilst also aiming to source more sustainable options. All Bar One and Wetherspoons also stopped using plastic straws last year; with drinks brands Diageo, Bacardi and Pernod Richard set to lay out plans to stop using straws and stirrers. The impact of Wetherspoon’s move alone is said to save 70 million straws per year!
It’s not just the hospitality industry getting on board, even the Queen has banned plastic straws and bottles from the Royal estate after working with Sir David Attenborough on a conservation documentary. Internal caterers are now only allowed to use china plates, glasses and recyclable paper cups.
The #RefuseTheStraw campaign has sparked the change and has pressured the industry to think twice about how they are serving their drinks. It is clear that consumers attitudes are changing and they are more tuned in to this type of concern. A Facebook post by Vivienne Westwood explaining that “the straw in your cocktail or coffee will be on this planet forever”, sparked the interest of 300,000 viewers.
The UK government and the EU have both hinted at their plans to ban the use of plastic straws with Michael Gove saying: “if it is bad, then banning it is a good thing”. A similar ruling was made recently with the UK putting a 5p charge on plastic bags, this has resulted in an 85% reduction in the amount of bags that people use. Many people are even converting to non-plastic toothbrushes, with bamboo alternatives showcased on The One Show recently.
Not only has eco-consciousness attracted customers, but it can create partnerships. The One Show have partnered with the aforementioned Smart Hospitality Supplies to create their menu covers for many years which has spurred both parties quest for sustainable production.
With consumer and industry behaviour changing rapidly, it is imperative that businesses within the hospitality trade keep up. With a growing interest in recyclable products and social awareness, consumers are likely to choose a bar that they trust to be environmentally sound over one that is not. Bars and restaurants need to drive the change rather than being pulled along with it, or they might face the risk of losing out to their competitors! The future is green!