Single-use plastics soon to be a product of the past?

More and more restaurants have opted out of using plastic straws and replacing them with the paper equivalent.  Although there are challenges with the paper product breaking down and becoming mushy after extended use, it has not deterred restaurants from making the switch.  A & W has been a leader by being the first fast-food chain to ban plastic straws within their restaurants.  That means there are 82 million fewer straws reaching our landfills each year from their restaurants. They have made the switched to a paper straw which is sustainably sourced and biodegrade within 3-6 months. Other restaurants have also set goals to reduce their waste such as McDonald’s, who is planning to source 100 percent of its packaging to be renewable, recycled or supplied from certified sources by 2025.  Subway and Starbucks have also gotten on board by promising to eliminate plastic straws from their operations.

As Canadians, we use about 57 million straws per day and considering only 20 percent of these get recycled, it seems like a no brainer that businesses are getting on board.  It comes at a higher cost for the business but with the social pressure growing and the environment suffering, many businesses feel they have no other choice but to comply by reducing their waste and eliminating single-use plastics.

Although straws are a large concern, it doesn’t stop there.  Other things to consider are plastic cutlery and foam take-out containers.  Some businesses have made the switch to wooden cutlery however it comes with mixed reviews due to the different texture.  Businesses are looking at all alternatives to offer sustainably sourced items which are biodegradable causing minimal impact to our environment.  With take-out containers used so widely, many businesses have made the switch to biodegradable and/or compostable options made out products such as sugar cane which can break down in a home compost in as little as 90 days.

There are many cities dedicated to phasing out plastic bags and other single use plastics to reach the goal of zero waste circular economy.  Vancouver has voted to ban plastic straws which is effective June 2019 and Victoria was the first municipality in BC to ban plastic bags last July.  These are just two of the many cities who have set goals to ban things such as plastic cups and foam take-out containers.  Vancouver’s strategy also includes reducing the amount of plastic bags and plastic cups being offered by businesses by eliminating the option or charging more for these items, with the eventual goal of a complete ban by 2021.

It will not happen overnight but we are seeing changes that hopefully will help our environment and our wildlife.  Everything we do each day to improve our practices means a brighter future for the next generations.

Non-Verbal Communication in the Restaurant

If you would like more information or have comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would love to hear from you.

We will be covering this in detail in our next workshop Serving Like a Pro with hands on practice to prepare you for a successful and happy server career. If your staff could use the training, why not reach out and have your restaurant professionals do the training for you? Saves you time and time is money. Group and individual training are available. Contact us for more information at