SMEs admit plastic response is inadequate

Just half of small and medium-sized hospitality businesses say they are doing all they can to cut single-use plastic waste, a survey has found.

Of the hospitality and leisure businesses surveyed for a YouGov poll for Keep Britain Tidy and Brita, 17% said they should be doing much more to reduce their use of single-use plastic, while 28% said they should be doing slightly more. The figures broadly reflect the survey response across all UK business sectors.

Hospitality and leisure businesses fared better on their attitude to preventing plastic waste with 77% saying it was very or fairly important to them, higher than the average across all sectors of 69%. 34% of hospitality and leisure businesses believed they were responsible for encouraging their customers to reduce their use of single-use plastic, while 51% said they were responsible for encouraging their staff to reduce their personal use of single-use plastic at work. 29% said they were already encouraging staff to use reusable alternatives to single-use plastic, while 17% have replaced some or all of the single-use plastic used in the supply chain with reusable or non-plastic alternatives.

The poll suggests that, across all business sectors, companies fear reducing single-use plastics could make them uncompetitive.

"This research makes for shocking reading but it is not simply about knocking businesses for inaction - it is about understanding the barriers they face and looking to work with them to offer the expertise, support and guidance that will help them transform for good,” said Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton. "There are some 5.7 million small and medium-sized businesses in the UK, accounting for 99% of all businesses - so we need them to take action alongside the household names."

YouGov surveyed 1,006 senior decision-makers in small and medium-sized firms from June 3-11.

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