Update – plastic drinking straw ban

We let you know about an important exemption for catering businesses

Pile of drinking straws

This month has heralded the introduction of a new law banning single-use plastic drinking straws, stirrers and cotton buds, amidst public pressure to find more sustainable solutions for our environment. 

It’s believed that, in England, more than 316 million plastic stirrers, 4.7 billion plastic straws and 1.8 billion cotton buds with plastic shafts are used every year.

Originally due to be introduced in April, the ban means that it is illegal for businesses to supply or sell such items. Environmentalists are causing for the ban to go still further, and encapsulate more non-recyclable plastic items, amidst concerns about the extent of pollution to the world’s landscapes and oceans. These have been heightened, of course, by the volumes of discarded items of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus outbreak.

While we welcome this step to protect the environment, we also understand that many of the catering businesses we work with are concerned about the potential cost of wasting existing stocks, and of purchasing eco-friendly alternatives, while being able to offer straws to customers who want or need them.

Which is why we’re letting you know that an exemption has been introduced to give such businesses – many of which are already struggling to maintain their activities as a result of COVID – more time to adapt. It also means that providers can still offer straws to people such as adults with disabilities or medical conditions, and children who often struggle to drink straight from a glass or cup.

For the time being, this exemption for catering businesses allows them to supply single-use plastic straws with food for eating straightaway, so long as:

  • They keep straws out of the way, in a place where customers can’t see them or help themselves
  • They don’t offer them to customers – ‘either verbally or in writing’ – and only hand them out on request.

At Elliott’s, ever since we’ve known of plans to eradicate plastic straw usage, we’ve been researching biodegradable and reusable alternatives, so if you’re looking at options, we can advise you on the range available and the best ones to suit your business.

Our Sales & Marketing Executive, Chris Elliott, explained: “We’re really pleased that this newly-announced exemption provides our catering clients with some much-needed breathing space. However, at the same time, we know that many of them are rightly keen to support the environmental effort, while still providing their customers with straws which, of course, are particularly appealing to children.

“There is a wide variety of alternative products available and we would urge any food service business that’s unsure what to do in light of the new rules, to get in touch so that we can guide them accordingly.”

To find out more, just give us a call on 01482 327580 or email us.

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