The Alchemist has stopped offering plastic straws

By Fred A'Court

- Last updated on GMT

Environmental impact: the Alchemist is to stop offering plastic straws
Environmental impact: the Alchemist is to stop offering plastic straws

Related tags Plastic straws Recycling

A bar and restaurant chain is attempting to ditch straws in a bid to help save the environment.

Self-styled ‘molecular mixology operator’ the Alchemist is to stop offering plastic straws in glasses at its 10 city centre premises.

"The initiative may be small but it has a huge environmental impact," it said.

By stocking far fewer straws and only giving them out on request, the chain is hoping to stop an estimated 2m going to landfill every year.

Educate and engage

The Alchemist managing director Simon Potts said: “Most straws are not recyclable, yet many bars and restaurants relentlessly provide these for customers, sometimes even two at a time.

“We want to educate and engage with our customers about the environmental impact of ditching straws and I’m sure our customers will welcome it with open arms.”

Once disposed, straws can spend years in landfill without decomposing.

“We are absolutely focused on decreasing our environmental impact wherever possible, which is why initiatives such as ‘war on straws’ are so important to us as we evolve as a brand,” Potts said.

“We hope other operators follow in our footsteps.”

The Alchemist has 10 bar and casual-dining city centre locations including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle.

It is backed by Palatine Private Equity, which supported a buyout by Living Ventures in 2015.

Helping the environment 

Pubs and restaurants can do much to help the environment through savings on plastics, packaging, and food and drink-saving initiatives.

Government-backed waste reduction agency WRAP says UK businesses involved in its Hospitality and Food Service Agreement (HaFSA) have saved an estimated £67m through their combined actions to prevent food waste over three years since 2015.

HaFSA participants achieved an 11% reduction against a 5% target.

"The final year reduction in waste was 31,000 tonnes lower than the baseline, the equivalent of 80,000 tonnes less CO2e," WRAP said.

Food waste prevention saved an estimated 24,000 tonnes of food from being thrown away cumulatively over three years, the equivalent to 48m meals.

Redistribution of surplus food has also doubled during the agreement to 760 tonnes – the equivalent of 1.5m meals.

A second HaFSA target that centred on improving overall waste management – to increase the combined rate of food and packaging waste recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted to at least 70% – fell short of the desired figure. Its increase of just 58% was put down to the length of time required to implement new contracts and incorporate food waste collections.

WRAP director of business programmes Steve Creed said: “I am delighted with the achievements of the HaFSA signatories, who made amazing progress. The sector has taken huge strides implementing measures to prevent food waste, and realised individual and sector wide benefits. While it’s disappointing not to have met the waste management target in full, big improvements have been made.”

A 10-year plan aims to cut waste and greenhouse gas emissions associated with food and drink in the UK by at least one fifth per capita by 2025, and reduce the impact of water use, with cumulative savings of around £20bn.

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