With the October Legislation Looming, Government Silence over Reusables is Deafening

Opinion piece: Chris Mansell, Product Manager, Warewashing, Hobart UK

“In October 2023, the hospitality industry in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be met with a huge legislation change around the supply of single-use plastics, with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) pledging to make good on a January 2023 commitment to ban the sale of single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers.

“While this is an overwhelmingly positive move, bringing the rest of the UK in line with Scotland and several EU countries where such legislation already exists, at the time of writing (Summer 2023) the government has yet to provide any further guidance or cast-iron details on what will or won’t be outlawed, creating unnecessary confusion around an incredibly important issue.

“We know from our constant dialogue with the industry that operators are at differing states of preparedness and, given the unprecedented challenges the industry has faced over the last three years, it’s little wonder.

“Many are still in recovery mode from the pandemic, trying to recoup the estimated £115 billion worth of sales lost versus expected revenue in 2020 and 2021.* Having navigated their way through that crisis, businesses have had little-to-no breathing space, instead hit with spiralling energy costs, the cost-of-living crisis, and staffing worries – all of which have wreaked devastation in their own way – undermining consumer confidence and further reducing already tight margins.

“Given the number of fires operators are already having to fight, it’s hardly surprising that a somewhat vague legislation change as far off as October, has been less of a priority in their minds.

“That said, addressing the issue now and researching the impact it may have on their business, could save countless hours come the autumn, when last-minute purchases in the rush to become compliant, could lead them to seek to less commercially-viable decisions.

“In a larger context, considering a business’s relationship with single-use plastics now, and acting sooner rather than later to make improvements, could also have a positive impact on how it is perceived by customers and the wider world.

“The public is undoubtedly becoming more savvy when it comes to sustainability, with the conscious consumerism trend only expected to proliferate in 2023 and beyond. In the profit sector, younger generations in particular have been altering their spending habits, demanding more transparency from hospitality venues to prove their sustainability credentials, before choosing where to spend their hard-earned cash. Cost-sector sites are also under pressure to meet targets, with recent policy stipulating the need to work with reusable items wherever possible.*

“And with innovation in the industry absolutely thriving, the latest solutions available to the sector to help operators become less reliant on single-use plastics – embracing instead the much-vaunted circular economy – can help to ease the transition and even allow sites to profit in the process.

“As a market leader with a real commitment to sustainable issues and a global reach into territories where single-use plastics have either been eradicated or their usage severely curtailed, Hobart’s expert teams have been able to get at least two years ahead of the UK market. Our range of reusable washing solutions – including ground-breaking HYLINE Rinse Aid, bespoke racking systems and range of innovative drying solutions  – have been designed around the core guiding principles of simplicity and performance to help remove the headache of the move away from single-use plastics, however it looks come October.

“Talk to us today to see how Hobart can help you get ahead with the transition to reusables and save you money in the process. In the face of Government inertia, it could be one of the most sensible business decisions you make this year.”

To find out more, visit www.hobartuk.com/reusables

* https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/news/596042/Two-years-of-Covid-does-115bn-damage-to-hospitality-industry-.htm

* https://consult.defra.gov.uk/public-sector-food-procurement/food-and-catering-consultation/supporting_documents/Proposed%20public%20sector%20food%20and%20catering%20policy%20for%20England%201.pdf