Hospitality businesses in Scotland are being urged to ditch single-use packaging after a pilot scheme saw a significant fall in the use of disposable items when reusable alternatives were made available.
The 12-month long pilot run by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) saw common disposable items such as sauce sachets and takeaway cups replaced with reusable versions, and straws and stirrers made available on request only.
The scheme was targeted at businesses based in the Portobello and Joppa suburbs of Edinburgh including Civerinos, The Cake and Candy Tearoom, Malvarosa, and ShrimpWreck.
Sauce sachet use fell by 99% by switching to refillable bottles. Straw and stirrer use reduced by 92% and 86% respectively by putting them behind the counter and making them available on request. Takeaway cup use fell by 96% by charging for single use cups and offering a reusable cup for a deposit, while takeaway container use fell by 56% by offering reusable ones for a deposit.
Overall, ZWS said the pilot led to a monthly saving of 266kg C02eq and 16,273 single-use items, as well as saving the businesses money over the long term.
“The Ditching Disposables scheme has been a huge success, proving that with a few simple changes, hospitality businesses can have a dramatic effect on reducing their single-use waste,” said a ZWS spokesperson. “We know that two massive barriers these businesses face when adopting more sustainable practices are time and money. But this scheme demonstrates that time invested in implementing these small changes can have a substantial positive effect on the environment and business’ finances and the majority of them are incredibly quick and easy to implement.”
The trial was managed and funded by ZWS on behalf of the Scottish Government. Circular economy minister Lorna Slater said: “Last year, Scotland became the first country in the UK to ban many of the most problematic single-use plastic items. The best alternative to single-use plastic is always reusable items and I hope the findings of this pilot will encourage businesses to ditch disposables wherever possible.”
Slater also restated the government’s intention to introduce mandatory charges for single-use coffee cups.