A plastic straw, which is only used on average for 20 minutes, can take more than 200 years to break down into smaller pieces. Quite often, it doesn’t even fully disintegrate. Although other countries have already taken action on this issue, with the UK reportedly set to ban plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds, Ireland still lags behind. Last year, the Restaurants Association of Ireland welcomed the banning of plastic and single use straws in restaurants and pubs, adding that the issue of waste needs to be addressed by all businesses but in particular those within the hospitality and bar trade.
So why are some operators within the hospitality sector not taking sustainability seriously, particularly when customers are demanding environmentally-friendly practices from the venues they frequent? Reon Estie, Operations Manager at Castleknock Hotel, believes hotels may be slow to make the change to sustainable packaging for a couple of reasons. “I think it’s probably a resistance to change and a perception that it will be more expensive and also harder to get hold of. The reality is that sustainable alternatives are quite easy to source and that financially, they’re not restrictive.”
At Castleknock Hotel, single-use plastic has been replaced with disposable biodegradable coffee cups and recycled plastic straws. “Recyclable biodegradable straws can sit in a drink for a long period of time, plus they cost the same as the traditional plastic straws. We also don’t buy swizzle sticks anymore, they were a big issue with regards to wastage.”
Ashford Estate has also stopped using plastic straws. “Both the Castle and the Lodge do not use plastic straws anymore. We have a strong CSR/green policy and over the next few months, we’ll be working on decreasing the amount of plastic we use in both properties.”
The Association has pointed the industry to various foodservice and catering equipment partners that stock paper and biodegradable alternatives to plastic straws; Musgrave, BWG, Hugh Jordan and Nisbets all stock a range of alternative options to plastic straws, including paper and bio-degradable. There are also several online stockists of alternatives to plastic straws that supply paper, bamboo, steel and glass straws.
Based in Kilcoole, Biostraws supplies quality, biodegradable paper straws to the hospitality industry. The company supplies over 200 generic designs and can also provide customers with custom designs.
Glass, wheat and bamboo straws are available at UK based company ecostrawz Ltd. The company has supplied hundreds of thousands of eco-friendly drinking straws around the world in an effort to combat the damage that disposable plastic drinking straws are having on wildlife and our environment.