With the government’s bid to ban plastic straws, and the Prime Minister stating that plastic waste is “one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world”, Beacon, who represents over 2,000 hospitality leisure and healthcare businesses in the UK is urging operators that the price is worth paying now to switch to alternatives to single-use plastic items including straws.
Due to the recent increase in demand for paper and compostable straws, we are supporting our supply base in communicating their efforts in finding innovative alternative plastic offerings now, and show their commitment to this positive change. By focussing on this now we are able to make it easier for our customers to adapt and make the reduction of plastic straws an integral part of their business strategy, and to avoid potential ‘plastic shaming’ by customers.
While we strongly encourage businesses to implement alternatives now to reduce pressure and costs if the ban comes into place, they must be prepared to invest in this change in the short-term, as alternative products may initially be more expensive. With demand currently outstripping supply, businesses should expect there to be limited price negotiations, as it is currently a sellers’ market. However, as the potential ban on single-use plastic becomes more integrated across business strategies, we predict that supply will catch up with demand, leading to more cost-effective solutions entering the market and supporting environmentally friendly behaviour.
Insight from our supplier, Bunzl Catering Supplies, who have already increased their paper straw range from two options to 17, suggests a variety of different approaches that operators can take advantage of when it comes to offering an alternative to plastic straws:
- Offer paper straws rather than plastic straws. Paper straws remain unsaturated for up two hours
- Offer thick, clear straws made from PP, as this will maximise the chance of the straws being recycled if they are disposed of in a mixed recyclables bin, whereas very thin, small or coloured straws will not be identified for recycling
- Offer compostable straws, often made from PLA. These must be disposed of with food waste in a bin designed for compostable material
- Introduce controlled-use straw dispensers, to reduce the frequency and quantity of straws being used. This means that a customer can retrieve a straw if they really want one
Paul Connelly is the managing director at Beacon, a hospitality consultancy company. For more information about Beacon please visit http://www.beaconpurchasing.co.uk or follow Beacon on Twitter @Beacon_YPP.