How To Eliminate Plastic In Your Catering Business: 5 Approaches
The excessive use of plastic has been shown to have a highly negative impact on the environment. It can be dangerous for wildlife, difficult to dispose of, and even toxic to produce. More businesses than ever before are reducing their use of plastic and choosing environmentally-friendly alternatives.
However, this process cannot happen overnight. Businesses that have not been initially formed as plastic-free enterprises must usually take a more gradual approach.
Many customers are also more motivated than ever by environmentally-conscious decisions, meaning they will often choose ‘greener’ companies over their competitors.
To be ahead of the curve, benefit the planet, and attract the rising number of environmentally-minded customers, reducing your use of plastic can be a great start!
Here are 5 ways in which you can cut down the use of plastics in your catering business:
1) Make a Plan
Eliminating your catering company’s use of plastic can seem overwhelming at first. But start with a plan. Begin with baby steps, aiming to simply reduce rather than eliminate, and work strategically.
Consider some of the areas of your business that use the most plastic. Perhaps this is with utensils such as knives and forks, containers for takeaway dishes, or even in the seating and table coverings. Identify your biggest area of plastic consumption and consider solutions.
This can be the best way to make the biggest impact, but it is not always the fastest and may take longer to implement. Another option is to start with solutions for smaller areas of plastic consumption — such as replacing plastic chairs and tables with more sustainable materials.
Whether you start in small increments or with a big sweeping change, the momentum will help keep you going.
2) Bad Plastics VS Better Plastics
Until the use of plastic is completely eliminated, it can be helpful to distinguish between plastics on a scale between bad and better. ‘Bad’ plastics might include single use disposable plastic straws or utensils, for example.
These are intended for a short term or single use and go in the bin and straight to landfill — especially if they are not made of any form of recyclable material.
Better plastics might include plastics that have already been made from recycled materials, or that is suitable for multiple uses and can be carefully disposed of or repurposed. Some forms of plastic can also be recycled themselves, so be sure to double check before getting rid of items.
3) Make it a Company Value
If you have made real progress in your journey to reduce plastic, or reducing your plastic consumption is a strong company aspiration for the future, considering making it a company value.
This might mean including your goals, quotas, and intentions in your publicity materials or website, for example. It might also influence who you collaborate with, or which suppliers you use, as you may want to work with those who have similar environmental values.
If you can make the reduction of plastic an ongoing intention and company value, rather than just a single drive or gimmick, for example, then you may be able to make a lasting change.
4) Publicise Your Intentions
Don’t go it alone! If you are keen to reduce the use of plastic in your business then let everyone around you know. Add this aim to your social media channels, communicate with other businesses who may have made progress in this area, and set quotas for the company to meet.
You may wish to set an ambitious goal to have completely eliminated your use of plastic in two years, for example, but smaller milestones may help to build confidence and momentum.
Each time you reach a milestone or make a change, be sure to add it to newsletters, social media posts, and in store — if suitable for your business — to show clients and customers you are making a genuine effort.
Recent studies have shown that companies who are perceived as socially and environmentally conscious and progressive are also popular with Millennials and younger consumers.
5) Encourage Participation
Many businesses have also offered incentives or encouragement for customers to get involved. This may mean encouraging or rewarding the use of bringing their own utensils, for example, or reusable cups.
You may even choose to provide purchasable reusable materials of your own with your business logo, offering discounts or loyalty stamps when customers use them in store.
It may even be as simple as encouraging customers to share, retweet, or like your social media posts — but encouraging participation helps customers to feel involved, engaged, and aligned with your vision.