The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) has partnered with ethical water company Belu to launch a guide to help foodservice businesses find the best available alternatives to single-use plastics.
The guide focuses on six of the most widely used items; bottles, straws, coffee cups, takeaway packaging, cutlery and cling film, summarising all the different alternative material options, assessing their sustainability from production right through to disposal, providing operators with practical information about the items that will genuinely be recycled for example, rather than those that just have the potential to be so.
It recommends a five-step plan as the essential starting point for any outlet serious about reducing their reliance on single-use plastic, which includes completing a plastic audit – a thorough assessment of what is being used, identifying what’s essential, setting reduction targets and asking suppliers for packaging specs. Finally, it recommends getting waste contractors to detail what they can and can’t recycle.
Andrew Stephen, chief executive of the SRA, comments: “Plastics play a crucial role in the day to day operation of most food service businesses, and right now the sector is facing an unprecedented level of awareness and pressure over their environmental impact.
“There is a huge tide of willingness to tackle the pressing issue of single-use plastic. Many foodservice businesses have already taken the first step – acknowledging they have a plastic problem. A number have already acted decisively to ditch some items like straws. There are few in the industry though who feel fully confident about the available alternatives for their full range of disposables.
“We’ve created a toolkit to help the industry start to come to terms with its addiction to single-use plastic. It’s designed businesses better understand the realities of what they are using, what it’s made of and how they can actually dispose of it. Armed with this, we hope businesses will be better equipped to make informed decisions, making switches which are genuinely better for the environment, customers and business too.”
The UK’s fast-moving grab and go culture sees an estimated 7 billion plastic bottles and 2.5 billion disposable cups sold each year along with 8 billion plastic straws.