Catering supplier reveals sales of paper straws outstrip plastic for first time

Stephensons straw volume graph 2017/2018 cropped

A leading catering supplier has revealed that sales of paper straws are now outselling their plastic counterparts for the first time.

Manchester-based catering equipment supplier Stephensons said that data it has collated relating to recent straw sales show a marked shift in buying behaviour. It comes as a number of leading foodservice businesses and restaurant chains have vowed to outlaw plastic straws over environmental concerns.

The statistics, collected over a period spanning July 2017 to March 2018, visibly display a continued drop in the sales of plastic straws.

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This is juxtaposed by a steady rise in the sales of paper straws — culminating in paper sales actually surpassing those of plastic in March 2018 after a sevenfold increase in the period. The graph also shows an increase in demand for PLA (polyactic acid) straws, another environmentally friendly alternative to plastic.

Managing director, Henry Stephenson, said: “This data really reflects a seismic shift in the buying ideology of operators and consumers. Sustainability and environmental credentials have quickly become integral factors in our industry and I think it’s fantastic. That’s why with our paper straws, we’ve tried to be as responsible as possible by making a concerted effort to source locally — which in turn supports UK manufacturing and reduces carbon miles.”

Mr Stephenson said the changes in operations were “clearly a response” to growing concerns on the ecological effects of plastic waste, as highlighted by the BBC’s recent Blue Planet series and a number of high profile news stories of wildlife harmed by improper plastic disposal.

“In the past 12 months we’ve made significant efforts to promote paper straws as an effective alternative to plastic. The noteworthy results from this data work as a positive landmark to reflect that and, ultimately, they are a sign of where the industry is heading as a whole. Eyes in the hospitality trade are firmly set upon a more sustainable future and we will all work towards that.”

Stephensons is making an attempt to spearhead an eco-conscious adjustment across all its product lines. It now offer myriad compostable and recyclable options, particularly for street food, takeaway and home delivery service, while its new catalogue and website features an emphasis on eco-friendly products by highlighting them in a green background.

Last year Stephensons sold 32 million paper straws.

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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