UKHospitality highlights sector action on reducing plastic waste
Hospitality representatives have responded to the Government’s consultation on banning plastic straws and stirrers, citing positive ongoing initiatives by the sector in the area of conservation. But the sector has issued a warning that a mandatory ban in the proposed timeframe could damage business and undermine existing measures to reduce waste being taken by businesses such as inns, cafes, B&Bs and hotels.
The consultation, which was launched in October, closed early this month. It followed the provisional announcement of a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, plastic drinks stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds in England by the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in April.
According to the government consultation document, single-use plastics are associated with negative effects on the environment if they are littered or discarded incorrectly after their use. They damage terrestrial and marine life, and there are costs associated with their clean-up and externality costs imposed on the tourism and fishing industries when they are incorrectly disposed of.
A DEFRA spokesman said: “This consultation aims to address the impact of plastic straws, plastic stemmed cotton buds and plastic drink stirrers on the environment. Everyone is welcome to reply to this consultation including manufacturers, trade representatives, retailers, wholesalers, environmental groups, waste management organisations, scientists, Non-Governmental organisations and members of the public.”
Trade association UKHospitality welcomed efforts to reduce the use of single-use plastic and has highlighted voluntary measures already being undertaken by hospitality businesses.
The trade body’s aim is to minimise single-use plastics as far as possible, in a timely manner that also ensures the introduction of affordable alternatives to avoid extra burdens and costs for businesses, according to chief executive Kate Nicholls who said she is fully supportive of measures to cut plastic waste, but warned a mandatory ban on the use of plastic straws in the proposed timeframe would cause problems for the sector. “Imposing a ban in such a short space of time may undermine measures that are already in place and increase burdens and costs,” she said.
“Hospitality businesses are leaders in reducing or eliminating the use of single-use plastics. This proactive work is to be encouraged and we support our members in their efforts to reduce waste.
“It should also be remembered that many of our customers have specific needs for requiring a straw, and a blanket ban on plastic straws could discriminate against them if alternatives are not readily available.”
UKHospitality is a signatory of WRAP’s Plastic Pact, which aims to significantly reduce plastic use within hospitality by 2025. It has also worked very closely with other industry bodies such as the British Institute for Innkeeping to promote awareness and share best practice.
Worldwide co-friendly practices are becoming the norm in the hospitality industry. People now expect it. Accommodation providers are now starting to consider the environmental impact on everything they use; from plastic straws to the need for lights to switch off automatically when a guest vacates a bedroom.