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Bywaters has presented a webinar on the ‘Conundrum of single-use packaging,’ which addressed multiple issues surrounding reducing plastic waste and how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have started increasing their recycling activities.

Customers Seek Out Sustainable Businesses

Our online conference on Tuesday 25th September was attended by many of Bywaters’ property managers, restaurateurs, and sustainability practitioners, as we provided them with an insight into the growing concerns and market direction of single-use plastic.
Bywaters’ first speaker was Pete Hemmingway, Community Manager from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

He began with his presentation, ‘Unexpected Consequences of Switching to Alternative Materials’ – explaining that many food-based businesses were under “mass pressure” from customers to improve sustainability.

He said:

“If there’s one rule for being sustainable, there are no ‘silver bullet solutions’ where many businesses are making a lot of decisions that aren’t necessarily right for them, which leads to follow on environmental issues.”

Food Businesses Have Been Slow to Match Consumer Environmental Demands

Mr Hemmingway remarked that a recent survey undertaken by the Sustainable Restaurant Association showed some “worrying” results from respondents, elaborating:

“Restaurants are more driven to do things on a personal level, but are also under masses of pressures from their customers too. Worryingly, most food businesses have changed some of their items to alternative packaging material that was generally more expensive.

“Most businesses we spoke to didn’t know what materials were entering their businesses and seem too busy to do research and just take them at face value,”

He added that the Association has introduced some incentives to large food chain restaurants, which includes switching to alternative materials for their straws.

Award Ceremonies Encourage Improvements

Akin to this, Julie Hogarth, Head of Sustainability at Regent Street Management (a Bywaters client), presented a number of case studies that RSM has recently conducted to improve behaviour change for businesses internally.

She noted:

“We launched the first Regent Street Awards earlier this yet to recognise and celebrate our customers, tenants and organisations within our community, who actively deliver environmental best practice to significantly increase recycling and at the same time improve efficient use of resource.”

Ms Hogarth told listeners that its ongoing partnership with us here at Bywaters, has significantly brought down single-use plastic bottles and costs within some SMEs, while providing them with the content and motivation to get their recycling infrastructure in place.

Bywaters Leads the Way With Coffee Cup Recycling

Edward van Reenen, Bywaters’ Head of Health & Sustainability and recent award winner at the ’35 under 35′ awards, was the third and final speaker who spoke about a number of the company’s ongoing waste management projects, with particular attention to our Costa partnership for coffee cup recycling.

A number of questions were posed by the audience, particularly with regards to the types of materials used as alternatives to plastic. In particular, one question asked about bamboo products and Mr van Reenen said that it was still early days in terms of alternative products and careful lifecycle assessments needed to be made.

A Successful Event

We want to thank all our wonderful speakers for their fascinating insights, and it was brilliant to see such an engaged audience contribute with challenging questions. Summing up the proceedings, Edward van Reenan said:

“We would like to thank Julia and Pete for taking time out of their busy schedules to share some fantastic real world insights and experiences with us and our listeners.”

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