The Canadian foodservice industry is plagued with many pressures, both political and social. The latest on the horizon is environmentally based and focused on the use of single-use plastics. Many segments of the foodservice industry today rely on these items as an economical solution for products such as cups, lids and straws. However, with mounting environment pressure from activists, governments and the public, what can operators do?

The use of plastic straws as of late has been a major focus. Current estimates state that Canadians use approximately 57 million straws a day with less than 20% recycled. A significant amount ends up in landfills, but a substantial amount also end up as litter. Straws are one of the top 10 items found in ocean and beach litter surveys. Straws can also have a dramatic negative impact on fish and wildlife.

Many operators have already taken action to eliminate or reduce the number of plastics straws with some chains switching to biodegradable or paper straws. Other individual restaurants, particularly in the bar sector have eliminated straws altogether.

A number of North American municipalities including Seattle have introduced straw bans while many others including Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Halifax are studying the issue. In Vancouver, city staff have put forward a proposal requiring servers to ask customers whether they want a straw as a first step. Internationally, the movement continues to grow as the UK is set to ban all sales of single-use plastics, including plastic straws and Q-tips from the country as early as next year.

Restaurants Canada is focused on developing a strategy to provide restaurant operators solutions and alternatives to help this growing concern. We would also like feedback from you. With the mounting pressure on plastic, more specifically straws, do you have any plans to phase them out in your establishment?

Share your plans in the comments below.

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