How Scotlands new ban on single-use plastics can benefit your business

Following on from the commitments made at COP26, new legislation is being introduced in Scotland banning single-use food containers made of expanding polystyrene from 1 June 2022. This means items such as plastic cutlery, plastic plates, plastic straws and expanded polystyrene containers will no longer be able to be used (read more on the legislation here).

Although there are various, more sustainable, alternatives for these things, they often come at a much higher cost. We take a look at how restaurants and takeaways can afford to strike the balance between being sustainable and coping with the rising costs of inflation.

single use plastic ban

What do business owners think about it?

For some What The Fork partners, the news of this legislation means they have to find new suppliers for their packaging as they are using what will soon be banned. Wok Inn business owner expressed his initial concern about the change saying his packaging costs will almost double;

The challenge we face is the cost of paper products as looking at websites and research, we are having to pay double the price and 1/2 quantities for paper tubs. We understand the impact of polystyrene to the environment and absolutely support the new law. But we really cannot afford the cost of paper tubs as a small business

On the other hand, business owners like Nick from Bonnie Burrito have always made a conscious effort to only use recyclable and sustainable packaging, making it part of his brand ethos.

We’ve said from the start that we will try to avoid plastic at all costs unless absolutely necessary in order to do our part for the planet. The food and drink industry is one of the biggest polluters so if everyone does a little bit it can make a huge difference. Our napkins, bowls, cups and bags are paper and we use wooden cutlery. There are still some things that we use that we haven’t found a sustainable or recyclable alternative for such as our foil for our burritos however we are always on the lookout for them.

bonnie burrito no plastic

What's the business benefit?

When asked why he made the conscious decision to keep sustainability at the forefront of what they do, Nick explained that not only was it the right thing to do from an environmental perspective but it also meets consumer demands;  

“We’ve catered to various events, including weddings, that actually make providing recyclable packaging and cutlery an essential requirement in order to attend - it’s clearly the way forward”

The sustainable alternative

We recently spoke with Vegware, an Edinburgh based company that provides plant-based compostable foodservice packaging, on the benefits of making the switch from single use plastic to more sustainable alternatives. 

Vegware is more than just a company supplying restaurants and takeaways with a more expensive alternative, their ethos is to support and help businesses become more sustainable. This is achieved through their ‘Close The Loop’ scheme whereby they collect their clients’ used Vegware and food waste for commercial composting, turning their ‘waste’ into high-grade compost in under 12 weeks. 

vegware edinburgh sustainable plastic

Meeting consumer demands

As Nick said, consumer demands have also changed, particularly throughout the pandemic and in light of COP26. Not only are people mindful of what they are putting into their bodies, but also what impact they are having on the planet. One survey reported that 75% of millennial respondents said they consider sustainability when making a purchase. 

Therefore if your business can be seen to take this responsibility and show that you’re committing to helping the environment by providing eco-friendly packaging (and in some cases creating compost from it), it is fair to assume that you’d attract more customers.

A change for good

Overall, there’s no denying that this change in legislation comes at a tricky time for business owners, however food production is responsible for around 40% of global emissions and so this provides an opportunity  for the food and drink industry to contribute to helping the environment. Plus, despite some alternatives being more expensive, showing consumers that you care about the environment in an authentic way allows you to grow your brand and in turn increase your revenue.

You can find out more about the alternatives that Vegware can provide under the new legislation here. 

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