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The last straw? Soon hopefully

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THIS year’s hot topic when it comes to the hospitality industry and the environment is the negative impact of plastics in our oceans. Nick Mosley talks to some of the businesses in the city to find out how they are adapting to this growing concern.

Whilst plastic in the ocean has been on our radar for a number of years, the recent BBC ‘Blue Planet II’ series presented by Sir David Attenborough really brought the issue to the fore.

“We’ve seen albatrosses come back with their belly full of food for their young and nothing in it”, Sir David said in a recent interview.

“The albatross parent has been away for three weeks gathering stuff for her young and what comes out? What does she give her chick? You think it’s going to be squid, but it’s plastic. The chick is going to starve and die”.

And as much as the impact on wildlife is a tragedy, plastics are entering into the human food chain as they break down into their component polymers and are consumed by marine life that ultimately ends up on our plates.

Back in October, an investigation carried out by The Guardian found that around one million plastic bottles were sold globally each minute. And these were only part of the eight million tonnes of plastic that finds its way into the oceans of the world annually.

Here in Brighton and Hove, more forward thinking venues have already begun to the step up to the challenge of reducing unnecessary plastic from their offering.

Not surprisingly, the team at Brighton’s Sea Life aquarium have been at the fore of this, and have developed an educational and recycling programme called The Loop. The brainchild of general manager Max Leviston, and part-funded by Coca-Cola Great Britain, The Loop encourages every person who purchases a bottled drink from Sea Life Brighton to responsibly recycle their waste. Ultimately, the aquarium hopes that The Loop will recycle 20,000 plastic bottles each year, the equivalent of what Sea Life Brighton sells annually.

For each bottle that is recycled, Coca-Cola Great Britain will donate 5p to the Sea Life Trust, an independent charity which works throughout the world to help endangered marine wildlife, and educate people on the dangers and risks to the world’s waters.

“With The Loop, we are hoping to inform our visitors about what recycling means and why it is so important for our oceans, in fact, for the whole planet”, Max said.

Meanwhile in the wider hospitality industry, many bars are making moves to ditch unnecessary plastic straws and stirrers from their drinks.

“We use striped paper straws in our cocktails”, said Francois Monin, assistant general manager at Lucky Voice karaoke and cocktail bar in Black Lion Street, Brighton, and one of the city’s top mixologists.

He said: “Whilst we’re currently on the look out for biodegradable straws, we do still use some plastic straws but only give them to customers who specifically ask”.

Over at Drakes on Marine Parade, they have been working on an increasingly sustainable approach to the use of plastics and non-recyclables.

“We have reduced our straw usage by 50 percent and plan to only use compostable straws in the near future”, said bar manager Tom Gabb.

“The heightened awareness towards environmentally damaging products within the drinks industry is very welcome and Brighton bars are very pro-active in supporting alternatives and campaigns such as The Last Straw. It is now also becoming a top priority for our customers.”

We can all make a positive change to reduce plastic in our oceans by asking bars, cafés and restaurants if their disposables are biodegradable or at the very least recyclable.


Source: The Argus