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Convenience culture has seen enormous growth in the UK since the 1990s and a further spike as a result of the recent lockdowns.

This is bad news for the environment. The vast majority of convenience packaging and single use containers will never be recycled; many are plastic / plastic lined, or made of ‘biodegradable’ and ‘compostable’ materials which need special conditions to break down (they can’t yet be dealt with at local recycling facilities). This means that most of our single use items are destined to contaminate existing recycling streams, end up landfill, go to incineration or to be left to litter the environment.

In fact, single-use plastic products such as cutlery, drink bottles, food wrappers and containers make up almost half of all the land-based litter which pollutes our seas.

But there is a simple solution; experts have declared that switching to reusables is perfectly safe, post-pandemic.

As a result, hospitality businesses across Cardiff are increasingly allowing customers to bring their own containers for takeaways and refills. Others doing the same are encouraged to sign up to the Refill App to help customers find plastic and packaging-free options, and as a free marketing platform to help drive footfall and increase sales.

And in offices and workplaces around the city, staff are being provided with more sustainable catering options – ditching take-out coffees and disposable takeaway

No matter what type of business you run, some ideas for cutting down on single use:

  • Ditch any single use packaging or serving-ware; use proper crockery, cutlery and glassware wherever possible.
  • Switch to suppliers who provide sustainable packaging e.g. milk which comes in returnable glass bottles.
  • If you are a hospitality business, offer a discount for customers who bring their own lunchboxes or coffee cups as an incentive.
  • Avoid using single-use packaging as a marketing opportunity; e.g. steer away from branded single use items. Instead, you could look to create a range of branded reusables for sale to your customers.
  • Sign up to the Refill App and become a partner; offer free tap water refills to your customers, so that they won’t need to purchase bottled water on the go.

For more inspiration, check out the resources below.

Single-use items such as straws and containers are a vital accessibility aid for many disabled people. We recommend you include a stock of single-use items for this purpose and that you make people aware they are available