There are plenty of practical issues that operators have to face on a daily basis in the running of their businesses, but sometimes decisions are made not to affect your bottom line, but to have some sort of social impact.

The effects human activity is having on the environment is one such issue that operators are mindful of currently. Globally, the amount of plastic filling the earth’s oceans is becoming increasingly an issue to its ecosystems, and one contributor to the problem is plastic straws. Two scientists have recently estimated that there are roughly 8.3 billion straws washed up on shorelines around the world.

A statistic like that can be overwhelming and make many question what impact they can have, but many operators have decided to make their own local impact on what is a global problem. Namely, venues are starting to remove single-use plastic straws from their venues in a bid to lessen their waste footprint in a significant way. Many venues are getting in on this policy, as the amount of waste these seemingly innocuous little products produce is made clearer by the day.

The movement to rid venues of plastic straws has been gaining steam in the last 12-18 months, as more operators become aware of their environmental impact through the cultural zeitgeist In the process of talking to publicans about this issue, several operators mentioned the now infamous video circling the internet of a straw being pulled out of the nose of a turtle. The video makes a simple, emotional plea that was the catalyst for many operators removing straws from their venues.

Additionally Bacardi, Pernod Ricard and Diageo have all made a commitment to phase out the use of plastic straws within their own businesses in recent years.

The strategy venues have implemented is a simple one – simply stop giving them out and (most) people will stop asking for them. Colonial Leisure Group, has removed plastic straws from all of its venues across the country, and has found that the majority of patrons are right behind the move.

“For the most part people are understanding and are willing to afford the small inconvenience for the benefit of the environment! It’s such a small change that it becomes a non-issue pretty quickly, but it does have a really long-lasting impact on marine health and pollution,” stated spokesperson Jenna Godley.

Some venues, like The Left Bank in Fremantle, Western Australia, offer biodegradable straws to customers who still request something sip their drink from.

“There are a few occasions where customers still demand a straw and don’t seem to care about their action/the effect on the environment. However, at least we’re trying to inspire a positive change and offer biodegradable straws if customers insist,” states Julia Maloney.

Offering bio-degradable alternatives has been taken a step further at Freddie Wimpoles in Melbourne, where the team also offers biodegradable sauce containers and packaging for takeaway meals ordered through UberEats and Deliveroo.

The movement will undoubtedly gain further momentum next week when the first episode in the second series of the ABC’s War on Waste program will highlight the issue of plastic straws and try to shift the community towards a zero tolerance for plastic straws.

The City of Sydney Council is also kicking of its own campaign with a simple message: “Sydney Doesn’t Suck”.

A number of operators and venues including Solotel, Archie Rose and This Must Be the Place have put their support into the campaign. Solotel and the Sydney Opera House are planning to lead a ‘straw amnesty’ which will give venues the opportunity to have a one-day straw amnesty and get rid of all the straws that are currently in stock and appeal to the community for a creative way to turn them into something else.

For more on how other venues are turning away from plastic straws see the July issue of Australian Hotelier, which is out now.


Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *