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Are we nearing the final (plastic) straw?

By Benedict Orchard, also posted in News on

Adnams' Sustainability Manager Ben Orchard with compostable strawsYou may have noticed that there's lots of chat about plastic straws and their demise, as more of us become aware of the need to reduce single-use plastics. For the very short lifespan and small purpose a plastic straw provides, they have a significant detrimental environmental impact. More often than not these single-use plastics will, unfortunately, find their way into our oceans, where it is mistaken for food by marine animals, causing serious harm throughout the food chain. Staggeringly, it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish, and we already have large islands of rubbish which are incredibly costly to clear up and cause severe damage to marine wildlife. On average, it takes around 500 years for a normal plastic straw to decompose - that's a long time for a few minutes' use. In order to reduce the amount of plastic in the Adnams business, we have changed the drinking straws at our Southwold café and Adnams Hotel & Inns*. We've replaced the un-recyclable, oil-based plastic straws with a new, plant-based compostable straw. These are derived from plants such as sugar cane and corn starch, which means we can avoid the use of fossil-based oil. The new bio-straws can be placed in food waste bins, therefore reducing the number ending up in landfill or our oceans. Our use of straws is very minimal within Adnams Hotel & Inns*; however, it is still very important to Adnams to show our support on this important issue. Even with these compostable straws we’re encouraging our staff to only give out a straw when necessary. In addition, we are talking with other pubs to follow suit and move away from plastic straws and stirrers. With Adnams' affinity with the coast and our understanding of acting sustainably for all of our futures, we’ve been trying to minimise our impact of packaging on wildlife for a while now. Adnams introduced a 5p carrier bag charge on single-use carrier bags in July 2015, ahead of the legislation. The proceeds from the bags are given directly to The Suffolk Wildlife Trust and are directed towards vital conservation work. Adnams stores also sell a 'bag for life' made from recycled plastic bottles, helping to use up a prevalent single-use plastic item after its life. Adnams is also removing the plastic hi-cones (those plastic rings around the top of beer cans to hold them all together) from our multipack of cans, which, because of their shape, pose a risk of suffocation to wildlife. So far, we’ve replaced these on Ghost Ship and Blackshore Stout for a thin, single-layer film which removes this danger and we’re working with our suppliers to see if we can change the film away from being plastic, too! Of course, there's lots more to do and we will continue to improve step-by-step. It's worth us all thinking about how much single-use plastic we can cut out from our lives.   *Adnams Hotel & Inns include: The Swan, Southwold; The Crown, Southwold; The White Horse, Blakeney; The Ship, Levington; The Bell, Walberswick; The Harbour Inn, Southwold; The Plough, Wangford  


Benedict Orchard