Recent figures highlight how Americans use an estimated 500 million plastic straws every day, most of which end up in our oceans, polluting the sea, and endangering marine life. Once the plastic reaches the ocean, it breaks down into smaller pieces until sea life ingests the microplastics, having mistaken them for food. Recent studies have shown the presence of microplastics in shellfish destined for human consumption, illustrating the threat to humans. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that US states are taking action on single-use plastic.
In California, there is a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at large retailers. Hawaii no longer allows non-biodegradable bags at any checkout across the state. Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle are the other American cities to have introduced outright bans on plastic bags with a 2019 agenda to ban straws. The growing opposition has potentially significant implications for American businesses that rely on single-use plastics in day-to-day operations.
It may seem daunting and costly to remove all single-use items from your café or restaurant. However, if you implement simple changes in combination with a sustainability-first approach, there are many ways in which your business can not only help the environment by cutting plastic waste but also reduce costs while also increasing sales.
Most cafés and restaurants rely on them: single-use bottles, throwaway coffee cups, disposable food containers, plastic cutlery, straws, plastic bags. The list is endless but your business can be successful and profitable without these items. When directly compared, it’s simple and cost-effective to offer durable and biodegradable items for your customers. If you can replace unsustainable products with eco-friendly options, your business has the opportunity to add more value to the customer. As people educate themselves and become aware of the damage single-use plastic is having on their environment, they are becoming more willing to spend on businesses that prioritize sustainability.
Almost 9-in-10 Americans say they expect companies to act on both social and environmental issues and that whether the company does or not, influences their purchasing decisions. You can see the growing trend of cafés reducing plastic waste as even smaller chains introduce reusable alternatives. Just Salad now offers reusable bowls to customers, helping the New York-headquartered salad chain save 75,000 pounds of plastic from hitting landfills as the switch to reuse products within the supply chain is becoming increasingly popular.
Purezza Premium Water has similarly encouraged venues throughout the world to switch to water that is freshly filtered on-site and served sparkling or still in beautiful, reusable, glass bottles. This not only reduces the environmental damage but also helps venues eliminate the need for delivery, handling, transportation and waste management associated with a pre-packaged water offer.
With 7.5m straws lining US coastlines, New York City, Hawaii, and California have enforced bans outlawing plastic straws following the example set by Strawless in Seattle. It doesn’t just stop at straws, though, as Los Angeles has introduced a $0.10 single-use plastic bag surcharge, resulting in a 94% drop in consumption.
In the United Kingdom, Starbucks rolled out a nationwide latte levy of 5 pence ($0.07) on single-use cups. The effort seeks to cut disposable coffee cup wastage following a successful trial period that spurred a 150% increase in the sales of reusable cups: a product that continues to soar with Argos selling 537% more of them in 2017 than in any previous year.
With 64% of Americans aged 18 or over drinking at least one coffee a day, alongside the shift driven by consumer appetite for businesses that support an environmental purpose, businesses that do not switch strategies to match consumer trends risk falling into obsolescence.
It’s clear to see the American food and beverage industry is waking up to profit opportunities by taking an anti-waste stance. Bon Appetit, the foodservice operator with cafés in college campuses and public spaces across 33 states, has announced a ban on plastic straws and stirrers with hopes of being completely plastic-free by the end of 2019. With two-thirds of American consumers happy to pay more if a product comes from a sustainable brand, you have an opportunity to make simple changes to enhance your café’s reputation while engaging eco-friendly customers, capturing a portion of the multi-billion-dollar opportunity.
Step towards removing single-use bottles from your venue and contact one of our Purezza experts today.