Greene King phases out plastic straws in favour of compostable alternative

Pub chain Greene King has announced that it will stock compostable straws across its entire portfolio of 1,750 UK pubs as it strives to meet a commitment of sending zero waste to landfill by 2020.

The new straws, which will be introduced across the chain’s estate by the end of the year, are made from PLA – a plant-based material deriving from sugar cane and corn starch. Greene King claims that the material typically decomposes within a 12-week period.

Once the straws are introduced, they will be separated at pub level and taken back through Greene King’s supply chain for composting at a commercial composting facility. The company estimates that this method of disposal will remove 30 million pieces of single-use plastic from its waste output each year.

“We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and reducing single-use plastics in our business,” Greene King’s communications director Greg Sage said. “Our closed-loop solution will ensure all PLA straws are correctly disposed of and decomposed into nutrient-rich soil, providing peace of mind for our customers who like the choice of a straw with their drink.”

The announcement follows a similar scheme from Greene King earlier this year. The pub chain generated a 60% reduction in the use of straws by only offering them on demand.

While a string of pub chains such as J D Wetherspoon and Be At One have recently banned single-use plastic straws in favour of biodegradable paper alternatives, Greene King claims it is the first to offer a compostable alternative.

The move forms part of the chain’s pledge to become the first UK brewer to achieve zero-waste-to-landfill across its estate, with a target date set for 2020. Since setting the aim last year following a partnership with waste management company SWR, Greene King has diverted 98% of waste away from landfill rate.

No more clutching at straws

Greene King is the latest high-profile brand in the hospitality sector to announce plans to phase out single-use plastic straws from its estate.

Hoteliers including HiltonHotel du Vin and AccorHotels have all pledged to remove plastic straws from their hotels, bars and restaurants, while the likes of Costa, Nando’s and Wagamama have followed suit in the food and drink sector.

Elsewhere, retailers including Ikea and Waitrose have moved to remove packs of plastic straws from their stores, while London City Airport, Heathrow and Eurostar have committed to removing them from their transport hubs in some shape or form. 

The commitments come as Ministers consider whether a national ban on plastic straws, drink stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds should come into force.  

Sarah George

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