Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Pubs urged to switch from plastic to paper straws

PUBS in Henley are set to ditch plastic straws and switch to paper alternatives.

Brewer and pub operator Brakspear, which owns 10 pubs in the town, has launched a “Plastic Isn’t Fantastic” initiative.

Landlords will be urged to stop using plastic straws, which are harmful to the environment and can take hunbreds of years to break down in landfill.

The scheme is being rolled out across all the company’s pubs, which will display posters to promote it.

Marketing manager Emma Sweet said: “Plastic straws are, rightly, seen as a cause of pollution that can be easily eliminated.

“Consumers are keen to reduce their personal plastic use and we’ve had lots of questions in our pubs.”

One of the first pubs to make the switch to paper straws was the Saracen’s Head in Greys Road.

Landlady Melanie Roberson said: “I saw a TV programme where they showed millions of plastic straws sitting on the ocean bed and I immediately thought, ‘I can do something about this’, so we got rid of the plastic and are offering paper straws instead.

“Customers have been supportive — the movement to reduce plastic usage is massive and everyone’s keen to do what they can to help.

“Plastic straws are an easy one to give up and hopefully we can reduce usage quickly in the same way that we’ve all moved from plastic carriers to reusable shopping bags.”

The Bull on Bell Street is moving to paper straws and has introduced other eco-friendly schemes including increased recycling.

General manager Dean Bigley said: “We are in the process of moving over to paper straws. We have not purchased any plastic straws in 2018 and are running down the last of our stock before switching over.

“Also, I have just removed one of our two large general waste bins and increased the amount of recycling bins in order to be more environmentally friendly.

“I think it is increasingly important that we hold ourselves accountable for the waste we produce while running a business and we should endeavour to minimise any negative impact on the environment.

“I have spent the last six months gradually replacing all light bulbs in the building with LED bulbs, reducing our carbon footprint.”

Cath Howie, landlady of the Row Barge in West Street, said: “It was something we were thinking about doing anyway so when Brakspear got in touch we put up posters in the pub.

“Customers are happy with it, except for the fact that they can get a soggy straw if they don’t drink fast enough!” Bradley Ralph, assistant manager of the Angel on the Bridge in Thames Side, said: “We now stock paper straws to lower our plastic waste and we have the posters up. I think it’s good to cut down on our plastic waste.”

Tim Wilson, who took over the Station House in Market Place this month, says he has replaced his larger plastic straws with recyclable alternatives and is looking for suitable replacements for his smaller straws.

He said: “We are transitioning both at Station House and our other pub, the Ship in Marlow. The feedback has been good and everyone seems happy with it.

“Paper straws aren’t as resilient but people would have to sit there with a drink all night to have an issue. They also look quite pretty. It’s really good to avoid plastics, especially with the knowledge we have now.”

Other pub landlords in the town are planning to follow suit.

Laurence Wilson, owner of Magoos in Hart Street, said: “We are trying wherever possible to reduce the use of throwaway plastics. We use only compostable plastics wherever possible, including our straws sourced from, and because of the expense we only give them to customers when asked.”

Neil Ainsworth, landlord of the Argyll in Market Place, said: “We have some stock of plastic straws remaining. We only dispense them when requested by a customer. We aim to only provide 100 per cent recyclable paper straws once a suitable supplier has been sourced.”

John Thirlway, who runs the Little Angel in Remenham Lane, said: “We’ve changed over to the red and white paper straws and we are running out every weekend.

“We are quite high profile and when people see what a big company is doing it can change perceptions. We had a little girl in on Sunday night who asked for a soft drink and said ‘no straw!’”

Nigel Rainbow, landlord of the Three Horseshoes in Reading Road, said he planned to switch to paper straws. He added: “We used to have returnable bottles but everything now is throwaway. It’s a disposable lifestyle.”

Heather Harris, manager of the Catherine Wheel in Hart Street, said the pub switched to paper straws in January.

She said: “When you explain the reason behind it people are more open to the idea.

“We are also trialling recyclable portion pots and in April we will start recycling our food waste.”

The Marine Conservation Society estimates that the UK uses 8.5 billion plastic straws each year and that many of them end up in the sea or washing up on beaches.

Last month, Environment Secretary Michael Gove suggested that plastic straws could be banned while a national campaign group called Refuse the Straw has been formed.

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