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.
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;
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.
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;
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.
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.