Operators urged to ditch single-use items

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish group takes lead: single-use items were used less during a trial (credit: Getty/creacart)
Scottish group takes lead: single-use items were used less during a trial (credit: Getty/creacart)

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Zero Waste Scotland is calling on hospitality businesses to ditch single-use items after a pilot scheme found a huge fall in the use of common disposable goods.

The organisation’s Ditching Disposables​ initiative, which launched in 2021, trialled a number of methods aimed at reducing the use of disposables trialled across multiple businesses in Edinburgh.

The year-long pilot scheme identified six steps businesses can take to slash single-use waste. These include switching sauce sachets for refillable bottles; charging for single-use cups and offering a reusable alternative; and making straws available on request only.

Other measures include putting napkins on tables rather than elsewhere; offering reusable takeaway containers for a deposit; and only making stirrers available on request.

Over the course of 2021, test sites cut sauce sachet use by 99%, while others reduced napkin use by 64%.

Reusable items for a deposit

Other notable successes included takeaway cup use fell by 96% by charging for single-use cups and offering a reusable cup for a deposit; straw use reduced by 92% by making them available on request only; stirrer use dropped by 86% by being request only; and takeaway container use fell by 56% by offering reusable ones for a deposit.

Overall, the pilot led to a monthly saving of 266kg C02eq and 16,273 single-use items, as well as saving the businesses money over the long term.

A Zero Waste Scotland spokesperson said: “The Ditching Disposables​ scheme has been a huge success, proving that with a few simple changes, hospitality businesses can have a dramatic effect on reducing their single-use waste.

“We know that two massive barriers these businesses face when adopting more sustainable practices are time and money. But this scheme demonstrates that time invested in implementing these small changes can have a substantial positive effect on the environment and businesses’ finances, and the majority of them are incredibly quick and easy to implement.

“As Scotland continues to move away from a throwaway culture to a more circular economy, initiatives like our Ditching Disposables​ study are vital in showing solutions are available and can be implemented successfully.”

Scotland leads the way

Scotland circular economy minister Lorna Slater added: “Last year, Scotland became the first country in the UK to ban many of the most problematic single-use plastic items. The best alternative to single-use plastic is always reusable items and I hope the findings of this pilot will encourage businesses to ditch disposables wherever possible.

"To help accelerate progress, we will be introducing mandatory charges for single-use coffee cups and are bringing forward an ambitious Bill that will support Scotland’s transition to a circular economy and increase reuse and recycling rates.”

Scotland banned the manufacture and supply of some of the most problematic plastic (including compostable plastic) single-use items on June 1 2022.  

The Ditching Disposables study was intended to demonstrate steps the hospitality sector can take as it shifts away from single-use items, regardless of what they are made from, to reusable options.

The UK Government recently announced there would be a ban on items such as plastic plates, cutlery and trays​.

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