The advice examines alternatives for the most widely used plastic items, such as bottles, straws, coffee cups, takeaway packaging, cutlery and cling film, to help foodservice businesses work out the most sustainable option for them. It looks at different materials from production through to disposal and offers clear information about what will actually be recycled, for example, as opposed to things that just have the potential to be recycled.
SRA chief executive Andrew Stephen said: “Plastics play a crucial role in the day-to-day operation of most foodservice businesses and, right now, the sector is facing an unprecedented level of awareness and pressure over their environmental impact.”
Want to reduce single use plastic waste? Start here.
SRA recommends a five-step plan:
- Complete a plastic audit – assess what you’re using
- Identify what’s essential
- Set reduction targets
- Ask suppliers for packaging specs
- Ask your waste contractor to detail what they can and can’t recycle
Ask the right questions
He said that many foodservice businesses have already taken the first step, which is “acknowledging they have a plastic problem”. He recognised that a number of businesses have already moved to end the use of single use straws and stirrers, with many pubs leading the way backed by the pub industry campaign #TheLastStraw.
However, Stephen added: “There are few in the industry though who feel fully confident about the available alternatives for their full range of disposables.”
SRA aims to help pubs and other hospitality businesses ask the right questions when dealing with suppliers and waste service providers.
Stephen said: “It’s designed to help 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 that are genuinely better for the environment, customers and business too.”
Working with SRA, top chef Skye Gyngell of Spring restaurant said when they realised that they had used enough cling film to stretch from their central London location to Istanbul (3,600km) since opening they were inspired to look for alternatives. However, after some investigation they realised they didn’t actually need to use film at all and have now stopped using it.
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.”
For more information about the SRA’s advice visit its website.