It’s estimated that Canadians use more than 50 million plastic straws every day (typically for only a few minutes). ¹ These straws then live in landfills and in the earth’s oceans for hundreds of years. More than 330,000 pieces of plastic waste were picked off of 2,800 kilometers of Canada’s shoreline in 2017, including more than 15,000 straws.²
Sea birds, fish, and sea turtles are among the three marine animals hurt most by the discarding of plastic straws. Because straws are relatively small, it’s not likely that they are properly recycled once consumed. In fact, 91% of plastic within Canada is not recycled.¹
Canadians are becoming more conscious of the single-use plastic problem, and some operators have taken a stand and banned plastic straws altogether (like The Last Straw initiative on April 21, 2018 by Last Straw Canada).
Though it is possible to completely evade the use of straws within a foodservice establishment, it may not be that simple or feasible.
An alternative to completely banning the use of straws—and reducing the environmental impact of single-use non-degradable plastic products—is the use of Stone Straw’s biodegradable straw products.
A compostable straw option, the finished straw product will oxo-biodegrade rapidly after disposal and will subsequently oxo-biodegrade with no harmful residues. When discarded in soil in the presence of microorganisms, moisture, and oxygen, the straws will achieve 60% oxo-biodegradation, decomposing into simple materials found in nature within 20 to 24 months.³
Consider a more mindful approach and shift the perspective of your customers, too
Promote the use of your biodegradable straws as an alternative to single-use plastic. Be not only on-trend (or ahead of the curve), but positively perceived as an environmentally-conscious operation.
Advertise Your Biodegradable Straws
Feature your decision somewhere easily visible on the hub of your digital presence; your website.
Some restaurants have a lightbox pop up within seconds that describes the harmful effects of plastic on our planet, and their decision to use biodegradable straws as a way to reduce their plastic footprint.
2. Social Media
Spread the word on your social media accounts and maybe consider creating a clever hashtag for your initiative.
Run a social media contest for customers who post a picture of their biodegradable straw beverage; participants can be entered in a draw to win a gift card to your restaurant. The photos spread your restaurant’s name across guests’ own social channels and starts a positive conversation at the same time.
3. Table Tents
Educate guests as soon as they’re seated.
4. Wait Staff
When taking beverage orders, have your wait staff ask guests which straw they’d prefer. Coupled with your table tent and any other promotion customers may have seen, it could help them make a conscious decision to choose biodegradable.
¹ laststrawtoronto.ca, Last Straw Canada
² CBC.ca, 'Banning Plastic Straws'
³ As described in American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D5988
This article is from our 2018 July-August edition of The Dish.