Becoming “plastic responsible” in hospitality

Currently, there’s an unprecedented awareness and pressure on the environmental impact of the hospitality industry.

However, plastic plays a crucial role in most food service businesses – restaurants, hoteliers, caterers, and more – and there’s no way to just remove all plastics from the industry.

Even if we could, there are still some plastics which are essential; they save lives in hospitals and much of today’s technology has plastic components.

With so many types of plastic – and just as many “environmentally friendly” alternatives – it’s hard to know what’s best to do from both a business perspective and an environmental one.

The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), has published a resource pack to help the hospitality industry get to grips with plastics and their impact on the environment.

Become “plastic responsible”

The resource pack, “Unwrapping Plastic,” is available for free, and works as a sector-specific guide.

To avoid overwhelming choice, the guide specifically looks at six of the most widely used plastic items in hospitality: bottles, straws, coffee cups, takeaway packaging, cutlery, and cling film.

Specifically, it offers suggested alternative materials, and if switching to these isn’t viable, it also provides ways to reduce the volume of the amount of plastics.

Andrew Stephen, SRA chief executive, 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 remove 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.

So we’ve created a toolkit to help the industry start to come to terms with its addiction to single-use plastic.”

The importance of reduce, reuse, recycle

Businesses can reduce their environmental impact by taking a look at the waste hierarchy: reduce, reuse, recycle.

This thought process can be applied to the two main issues within the industry:

– Which plastics can’t be recycled
– Which plastics can be recycled, but aren’t

By understanding the full lifestyle of a particular item, the guide enables businesses to apply the waste hierarchy and audit their business, starting with questions such as:

– Is this item necessary?
– Could the item be removed?
– If not, could the volume be reduced?
– Is it possible to switch to a reusable alternative?

The guide from the SRA is a fantastic resource that helps operators within hospitality navigate plastics, their numerous alternatives, and make the right decisions, with clear, easy-to-understand information.

Cymbeline Leadbitter, SWRnewstar BDM was one of the speakers at the launch event and commented “It was exciting to see over 150 industry leaders take the time to focus on plastics and learn more about the wider issues.”

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Plastic plays a crucial role in most food service businesses, and there’s no way to just remove all plastics from the industry.
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