The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) has launched a guide designed to help hospitality businesses find viable alternatives to single-use plastics.
With the increased focus on the damage plastic is doing to the planet, a growing number of operators are ditching plastic straws, bottles and clingfilm in favour of more environmentally friendly alternatives.
This sector-specific guide is designed to give operators the information required to make the right decisions about the plastic they use. It focuses on six of the most widely used plastic items – bottles, straws, coffee cups, takeaway packaging, cutlery and cling film – and provides alternative material suggestions and practical information about their recycling.
SRA chief executive Andrew Stephen said: “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 so as 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.”
Skye Gyngell from Spring restaurant in London, who will be among the speakers at today’s SRA event, Unwrapping Plastics: Use and Misuse in Hospitality, said that the issue had been brought into focus after she worked out that since opening Spring her team had used enough clingfilm to stretch from their central London location to Istanbul.
Gyngell said: “Single-use plastic is a really serious issue, but we shouldn’t be catastrophising it. Instead, we should recognise that we are better off now than we were 50 years ago and face up to the fact that this is our challenge, our problem to solve now. It’s also really important to understand that it’s nowhere near as hard you think to use less plastic.”
The SRA’s guide recommends a five-step plan as a starting point for any restaurant serious about reducing their reliance on single-use plastic:
- Complete a plastic audit – a thorough assessment of what you’re using
- Identify what’s essential
- Set reduction targets
- Ask suppliers for packaging specs
- Get your waste contractor to detail what they can and can’t recycle.