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Food service

In the food service industry, there is a move away from single-use plastic cutlery, cups, takeaway containers, and more. With a few tweaks, you could avoid plastic altogether.

What can you do

Avoid single-use plastic products when serving food.

How you can do it

To get an idea of just how much single-use plastic you’re using in your business, consider conducting a stock room or bin audit. This will help you to create an inventory of the disposable plastic items currently entering your business, things like milkshake cups, coffee cups, plastic plates, knives, forks. Many businesses switch from single-use items when they realise just how much money is wasted on buying these kinds of products.

Once you’ve established what products you want to avoid, have a chat to your suppliers. Ask them if they have alternatives, and consider the packaging they currently send their products in.

From there, start small with your changes. Pick one thing that you can choose to refuse, and substitute it with an alternative.

Some options include:

    • Swap single-use condiments for large bottles that can be refilled (eg soy sauce, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, butter, jam, vinegar, salt, and pepper).
    • Swap plastic cutlery for reusable metal ones or consider renewable or compostable cutlery for take-away dining.
    • Swap plastic plates for ceramic.
    • Encourage customers to bring their own container when ordering take-away.
    • Encourage customers to bring back cup holders for reuse.
    • Offer filtered water in glasses instead of plastic water bottles.

Taking the next steps

There’s an entire community of businesses choosing to go plastic free, which you can tap into. Reusable cup systems are growing fast, where customers can borrow and bring back a coffee cup to multiple businesses within a network.

It’s common now to have a policy where single-use plastic items are only given to customers when they request it. This can be particularly helpful with products like plastic straws, where some people need them for accessibility reasons.

A little bit of creativity can go a long way. Glass jars, with incentives for returning them, can be a great alternative to disposable takeaway containers.

When you’re finding alternatives to single-use plastic, the most sustainable outcomes are achieved by switching to reusable alternatives rather than single-use paper or compostable packaging.  

The Impact

  • Single-use plastics make up 40% of the plastic produced globally. Products used for food service are a large contributor to this, so it’s an area that can make a significant impact.
  • Demonstrating your values to your customers is good for business, and can have huge impacts on the environment. Food service businesses reach hundreds of people – the more people who are aware of the issue and the solutions, the more impact will be made.

More ideas

What others do

Glass of lemonade, bunch of straws and a plastic juice bottle

To find plastic free ideas, take the Plastic Free July challenge

Reusable carry bag, keep cups and bamboo cutlery
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