From July 1, more than 270 food and beverage outlets in Singapore will stop providing plastic straws. This is in addition to a number of establishments that did so last year, including KFC, Starbucks, Burger King and Resorts World Sentosa. Straws are a contributor to ocean pollution, so if you must use a straw, there are various alternatives available these days such as paper, bamboo and stainless steel variations.
The importance of cutting down on plastic in general has come to light in recent years, with important (yet somewhat scary and shocking) facts being thrown about. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), one-third of plastic waste ends up in nature, and there was 100 million tonnes of it in 2016. And, if things stay the way they are, the ocean will contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025.
Ditching straws is just the first step. Although a positive step in the right direction, some say simply banning plastic straws does little to reduce plastic pollution as a whole. In a recent study on phys.org, a pair of Australian scientists estimated that plastic straws make up less than one per cent of the eight million tonnes of plastic estimated to enter the ocean in a given year.
More sustainable solutions that reduce overall plastic use would be better in ensuring environmental sustainability — which is why we are applauding some other venues that are taking their love for the environment a step further by doing more.
Whether it’s in changing the way they sell and package their food, or the type of cutlery they use, here are 10 places that are contributing to reduce the excessive use of single-use plastic.
1. Wildlife Reserves Singapore
This organisation manages Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo, and with animals being at the heart of what it does, it’s no surprise that it is taking big steps to reduce plastic consumption as many animals are killed each year due to plastic waste. Bottled water purchase is the largest contributor of single-use plastic waste in its parks, so it has partnered with Hyflux to create eco-friendly water sources throughout the parks. These customised Hyflux water dispensers are installed throughout the four parks and visitors can fill their reusable water bottles for free. If you don’t have your own bottle, BPA-free reusable water bottles are available for purchase at retail and F&B outlets at the parks. The F&B outlets also sell water in eco-friendly packaging, as an alternative to single-use plastic bottled water. The parks also don’t give out plastic bags with purchases anymore but you can buy eco-friendly, non-woven bags at the retail outlets and cornware bags at the F&B outlets. Or you could purchase the cute specially designed ‘Go Green For Wildlife’ reusable shopping bags at the retail stores. Plastic straws and cutlery have also been eliminated at the F&B outlets, and they are on a journey to converting single-use plastics to eco-friendly alternatives.
The food that you get here is super healthy and now you’ll have better peace of mind when dining here as the eatery has made several changes concerning its plastic consumption. By switching from plastic to kraft bowls for its takeaway grain bowls in October 2018, SaladStop! has already saved more than 9,000 plastic bowls. Paper straws are only available upon request, its cups are lid-less and you’ll get a discount off your order if you bring your own reusable packaging. Any remaining plastic used in stores is made from 80 per cent recycled plastic. It also sells metal straws (Bonus: They’re in unicorn shade) as well as collapsible cups.
3. Spa Esprit Group
Photo: Spa Esprit Group Brands under this Singapore brand include Forty Hands, The Butcher’s Wife, Common Man Coffee Roasters and Open Farm Community, and the group is working to reduce the use of plastics in all its establishments. All plastic straws have been replaced with biodegradable ones and eateries will also be transitioning all takeaway packaging to paper packaging. At Tiong Bahru Bakery, reinforced paper bags are now used, instead of plastic bags. It has also been selling reusable tote bags so that returning customers can use them to bag their to-go items.
This Singaporean brand creates artisan ice cream with no artificial flavouring, colouring or sweeteners and has unique (and delicious) flavours such as Mao Shan Wang, Lychee Martini and Champion Chendol. Its aim is to be single-use-plastics-free by 2030 and it has already begun its efforts towards this goal by replacing plastic spoons with wooden ones in all its outlets. And, if you’re dining in-doors, you’ll get metal cutlery. Straws are also no longer provided and all plastic cups have been replaced with paper cups.
5. Hilton Singapore
This hotel chain has been making strides in its properties all over the world, in its commitment to reducing waste. The property in Singapore has eliminated the use of single-use plastics in the hotel wherever possible since 2017. You won’t find any plastic straws here and plastic water bottles in meeting and event venues have been replaced with glass bottles or pitchers. Also, any plastic tableware used in the past have been replaced with recyclable or environmentally-friendly materials. Hilton Singapore also uses only paper straws, sugarcane bagasse tableware, biodegradable cutleries and kraft paperbags for takeaways at the dining outlets.
6. NamNam Noodle Bar
NamNam is working on its own eco project and have made pledges to go plastic free or to use 100 per cent sustainable packaging in its Singapore outlets. Only compostable straws are used and they are only available upon request. Also, the sauce bottles you get on the tables have been changed from plastic to glass. Bring your own reusable container for takeaways and if you bring in your own tumbler for your morning coffee, the takeaway charge will be waived. You could also bring your own reusable bag or buy one from the outlets. And, the napkins used here are made from 100 per cent recyclable materials and are only available upon request, so take only what you need to avoid wastage.
7. Plain Vanilla
It’s hard to resist the tasty bakes here, whether your weakness is pretty cupcakes or good old-fashioned cakes. It’s also a brand that believes in environmentally-conscious, green practices. Only stainless steel straws are used in all its outlets and no straws are used for takeaway cold drinks, but they’re packed in a paper cup lined with PLA, a plant-based plastic alternative, with a sip lid instead. Bring your own water bottle and get free refills at the water dispenser or buy the artisan water sold here, which is packaged in glass bottles. It also sells reusable glass cups from Sol Cups. And you’ll get a discount if you bring your own takeaway cup or lunchbox. All takeaway packaging used is made of paper, sugarcane, or other fully-biodegradable materials. Plain Vanilla also uses reusable beeswax wrap – instead of plastic wrap – to store its baked goods.
8. Tadcaster Hospitality
This brand runs six venues in Singapore – BQ Bar, Bull and Bear, Molly Malone’s, Café Melba @ Goodman and @Mediapolis and The Exchange. Its eateries have stopped using plastic straws since late 2017 and paper straws are available upon request. They restaurants now only use biodegradable takeaway containers and cutlery and have also introduced recycling bins for glass bottles. And, if you bring your own containers or thermos, you’ll get a discount on your order.
9. Millennium Hotels & Resorts
This hotel group which runs Orchard Hotel, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, M Hotel, Studio M, M Social and Copthorne King’s Hotel in Singapore, has taken a greener approach to hospitality. The hotels are in the midst of phasing out the use of disposable plastics, including plastic straws, stirrers, plastic bags, cutlery and toiletry bottles. They are also planning to roll out green meeting packages, where water jugs are provided in place of plastic water bottles and notepads are made from recycled paper.
10. Lo & Behold
The venues under this hospitality group include Odette, The White Rabbit, The Black Swan and Straits Clan. All restaurants and bars under this group have gone beyond just removing plastic straws – they no longer use plastic cutlery and all their disposable packaging have been changed to sugar cane pulp bagasse bowls since October 2018. They are also on track to their goal of reducing nett plastic usage to zero by 2030.
Written by Balvinder Sandhu