EDITOR’S VIEW: The real solution to a very plastic problem

Walk into any commercial kitchen and it’s the overwhelming glint of stainless steel that will dominate your line of sight.

But it’s another material frequently used by the hospitality industry that is actually forcing foodservice operators to ask some serious questions of themselves.

The issue of single-use plastics has shot to the fore this year, with many of the big chains pledging to alter their purchasing habits in a bid to tackle one of the biggest environmental scourges facing the industry.

McDonald’s 1,400-strong UK estate will completely transition to paper straws over the next 18 months, while Starbucks has given itself two years to outlaw plastic straws from more than 28,000 outlets worldwide.

It has even gone to the trouble of designing, developing and manufacturing a strawless lid, which in years to come could well end up becoming the ‘normal’ way for beverages to be consumed.

The challenge that operators face is how to implement change. As the Sustainable Restaurant Association recently noted, many businesses have taken the first step of acknowledging they have a plastic problem but there are “few in the industry” that feel fully confident about the available alternatives for their entire range of catering disposables.

Consequently, the SRA has compiled the first ever sector-specific guide to finding the best available alternatives. It is designed to provide businesses with all the information they need to make the right decisions about the millions of disposable catering items they use.

Plastics play a crucial role in the day-to-day operation of most foodservice companies.

And with the sector facing an unprecedented level of awareness and pressure over the environmental impact of its actions, it is time for every operator to evaluate their own position and act on the situation to become a collective force for change.

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