Are you breaking up with plastics?
Ever wanted to break up but didn’t know how to? Us too! We’re not talking love, we are talking single use plastics. We know we can do more as individuals, but it got us wondering what can be and is being done as an industry.
We started thinking about it a bit more when we watched Blue Planet II. I am sure many of you did the same? Do you know, apparently we produce approximately nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year – have a look at https://www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/. Pretty amazing!
How are hotels, restaurants and chefs responding?
Probably the most common single use plastics in day to day life are plastic bags, straws, food packaging and water bottles. Given that we are in the food industry, clearly there is a part for us all to play here. I could not find any stats on how much waste there is from an average hotel kitchen, but just in general terms consider this:
- Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day.
- In the UK we use 38.5 million plastic water bottles every day. Every day! We only recycle just over half of these.
- Dame Ellen MacArthur of ocean sailing fame said in a Guardian article if nothing changes there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
It’s not all bad news
The good news is that people in our industry are thinking about this. We are not always sharing info on how to split from plastic, but certainly there are some excellent efforts being made. Our Senior Chef Consultant, Josh told me about Luke Holder and how he has real concerns about single use plastics. Luke (with Angela Hartnett) is Chef at the 5 AA Star Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest. In 2017 he highlighted the amount of packaging that came with his broccoli, there was an article in the Caterer that you might like to read.
It seems Luke is set to launch a chef campaign against plastic packaging sometime in 2018, this will be brilliant if he is able to do this. Raising awareness, if nothing else, will help. Luke has some very fine and influential chefs on-board and we will be keeping a close eye on what happens here.
Are you a chef or restaurant owner? Are you on board, maybe you practice green procurement? How does your produce arrive in your kitchen?
There are lots of positive stories out there. Have a look at the work of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA), they are driving positive change too. They have a sustainable framework, of which reuse, recycle and reduce is one of the positive actions they promote. Managing what comes in and goes out of your business to reduce waste and eliminate waste-to-landfill is a key focus. They also support the Food Made Good movement, a space you really should have a look at if new to this. There are awards too!
When you start to look, there are indeed many people in our industry doing something. Getting rid of plastic straws seems like a no brainer. You can supply paper straws if customers ask for them, it is an easy alternative, and taking this initiative does not affect the guest experience. Just this past week, the Birmingham Mail reported that the San Carlo Group of Restaurants are banning plastic straws. They use about 600,000 straws per year. What a great move this is. Wetherspoons are also going to ban single use plastic straws in 2018, and we all know how prolific their outlets are. Good news indeed.
At CaterPeople we are not particularly heavy plastic users as a company: but we do what we can. We hope we’re cutting down on plastic water bottle use by providing chilled, filtered water and glasses, we’ve replaced our plastic milk bottles with glass from the local milkman and our lovely Nespresso machine means people use far fewer of those horrible plastic coated take away coffee cups. And we can recycle our used capsules. Little changes start to make a big difference and we will keep looking for ways to cut our plastic usage. What are you doing? Are you breaking up with plastic this year?