Globally there is change in how people have been dining in all these years. Restaurant brands like KFC, McDonald’s among others are going green by adopting natural and healthier measures to serve food. Countries like the US, Singapore, Kenya, UK, Australia, Canada and some cities in India including Mumbai, Delhi and parts of South India are banning the use of single-used plastic to bring this natural change.
With a consumption of about 13 Mn Tonnes Per year, India generates 9 MN tones plastic waste per year. As the plastic waste menace increases in scale around the world, scientists, entrepreneurs and engineers have begun to come up with solutions that help to reduce it. Some are developing methods for recycling plastics, while others are developing products that are safe and biodegradeable. Some companies are beginning to develop products that are better suited for recycling.
Adopting Biodegradable Alternatives
Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt Ltd, the Master Franchisee for McDonald’s restaurants in West and South India, has successfully transitioned from plastic to eco-friendly and biodegradable alternatives for items used for guest packaging. The Group has already moved away from plastic in Maharashtra and key cities in Karnataka and is working on a plan for a market-wide change over the coming months.
“As the leader in the Quick Service Restaurant space in India, we are committed to using our scale for good and working towards finding sustainable solutions across our business. This is in line with McDonald’s global vision of building a responsible business,” said Ranjit Paliath, Senior Vice President, Business Operations & Restaurant Enablement while commenting on the initiative.
The burger chain is now giving customers wooden cutlery (spoons, stirrers, knives, and forks) instead of plastic ones. The plastic cups have been replaced by superior quality paper cups. The straws are either made of paper or other biodegradable materials that are derived from corn starch.
Likewise, KFC the fried chicken chain is ditching plastic straw and lids and is replacing it with paper straw in the India, Singapore and few other International markets.
Delhi based, Mother India- a fine dine restaurant situated in the heart of Connaught Place, has also bid goodbye to plastic straws and opted for a green route via using Paper straws. The restaurant is going green to bring in a small change by #refusetheplasticstraw and aims to spread awareness about the effects of plastic straws.
“We are happy and proud to take this pledge #refusetheplasticstraw at our restaurant. By taking this initiative, it’s our small contribution towards a greener world. Plastic straws are particularly dangerous because they are too small to be recycled. Instead of these, using and giving paper straw that are easy to recycle”, shared Nandini Nneeraj, owner, Mother India.
The Game Changers
According to a report, in Kerala 3.3 million plastic straws are used every day. It is 500 million daily in the U.S. So billions of these straws, by implication, are thrown away around the planet. The initiative against the plastic straw had started a little earlier, but it was about two years ago that the campaign took off really well in India including in mainly metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore etc.
Mumbai-based Reefwatch Marine Conservation has tied up with startups from Bengaluru and Mumbai in an attempt to bring about the shift away from plastic among coconut water vendors in Chennai. The organisation, though optimistic, acknowledges that they have a long way to go before that change takes effect.
Similarly, Faizabad based Chuk is using compostable materials like sugarcane waste to make microwable, ovenable and freezeable cutlery’s and we are trying to provide this to companies in India including the institutional caterers and QSRs. “It is very important that we are not reactive in terms of these bans that happens. We need to become pro-active in today’s time. The idea is to keep moving in right direction and fulfill the need,” added Sumant Pai, Business Head, Yash Compostables Ltd.
To go with the customers demand and need, a group of packaging industry veterans in the UK are preparing to open a dedicated paper straw production line in Ebbw Vale, Wales, making hundreds of millions of straws a year for McDonald’s and other food companies as they prepare for a ban on plastic straws in the UK.
“We spotted a huge opportunity, and we went for it,” said Mark Varney, sales and marketing director of the newly created paper straw manufacturer Transcend Packaging. “When the BBC’s Blue Planet II was on the telly and the government started talking about the dangers of plastic straws, we saw a niche in the market,” shared Varney to the Guardian.