Greene King Launches Industry First Compostable Straw Solution

Greene King has announced it will introduce compostable PLA straws across its entire UK estate of 1,750 pubs, as part of its pledge to send zero waste to landfill by 2020. This will remove over 30 million plastic straws from use every year.

This announcement follows a move earlier this year where Greene King removed its recyclable plastic straws from the bar and only served them on demand, which has seen as 60% reduction in the use of straws.

Thought to be the first of its kind in the hospitality industry, Greene King has worked with its waste partner, SWRnewstar, to find the unique closed loop solution whereby its PLA straws are segregated in the pub, taken back through its supply chain and decomposed in an ‘In Vessel composter’ (IVC) at a commercial composting facility.

PLA, which is made from plant-based materials such as sugar cane and corn starch, decomposes naturally in a controlled composting environment in as little as 12 weeks, using the same microorganisms that decompose organic materials. The decomposed straws will be recycled into nutrient-rich soil which can be used to fertilise plants and crops.

Greg Sage, communications director, said:

“We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and reducing single use plastics in our business. At the beginning of the year we removed our recyclable straws from the bar and provided them only on demand, which saw a 60% reduction, while we looked at a more sustainable alternative.

“We have taken the time to listen to our customers as we know how important this issue is. Our closed-loop solution will ensure all PLA straws are correctly disposed of and decomposed into nutrient-rich soil, providing peace of mind for our customers who like the choice of a straw with their drink.”

Charles Miers, co-founder and chief executive officer at Footprint, said:

“Earlier this year a Footprint investigation cast doubt on the integrity of plastic-free straw pledges. Our review found little evidence that eco-friendly straws were actually being disposed of in the most responsible way. Some businesses admitted to not actually composting compostable straws at all while others conceded they had little idea where recyclable paper straws were ending up. Having been on this journey with Greene King it was refreshing to see the business hold back until an unequivocally water-tight solution was implemented with its waste partner. We’re really looking forward to monitoring the positive results.”

Andy Butler, chief executive officer, SWRnewstar said:

“Partnering with forward thinking businesses that have a shared passion in delivering innovative and sustainable solutions, and that crucially walk the talk, is key to SWRnewstar.  Over the last five years we have worked very closely with Greene King in a number of innovative ways and in so doing have helped them stay at the leading edge of both distribution models and the environment agenda within the hospitality industry. We are very proud to be part of the PLA Straw closed loop solution which is the latest example of our successful collaboration.”

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