The manual, which has been created in partnership with water company Belu, focuses on offering alternatives for bottles; straws; coffee cups; takeaway packaging; cutlery; and cling film, which are the industry’s six most widely used single-use plastic items.
The guide, which SRA chief executive Andrew Stephen refers to as a “toolkit”, assesses sustainability of plastic alternatives from production through to disposal.
It recommends a five-step plan for restaurants looking to reduce their single-use plastic reliance, including completing a plastic audit; identifying which plastic items are essential; setting reduction targets; asking suppliers for packaging specifications; and asking waste contractors what they can and cannot recycle.
The launch of the guide will be marked by the SRA’s event Unwrapping Plastics: Use and Misuse in Hospitality.
It will feature a number of talks from industry figures who have been vocal about their attempts to reduce plastic, including Neil Rankin of Temper; and Sky Gyngell of Spring.
Rankin has replaced plastic straws with a variety made from corn starch and stopped using vacuum packing two years ago, while Gyngell is cutting down on cling film in favour of a bio-degradable alternative.
In the delivery side of the industry, Deliveroo has introduced a 50-strong line of eco-packaging for its meal deliveries, while JustEat is trialling edible seaweed-based sauce sachets that decompose within six weeks.
“Many foodservice businesses have already taken the first step – acknowledging they have a plastic problem, but there are few in the industry though who feel fully confident about the available alternatives for their full range of disposables,” says the SRA's Stephen ahead of the launch.
“We’ve created a toolkit to help the industry start to come to terms with its addiction to single-use plastic. Armed with this, we hope businesses will be better equipped to make informed decisions, making switches which are genuinely better for the environment, customers and business too.”
The UK’s grab and go culture sees an estimated 7 billion plastic bottles and 2.5 billion disposable cups sold each year with only a fraction of these being recycled, as well as an estimated eight billion plastic straws.