Aramark just announced a commitment to significantly reduce single-use disposable plastics across its global foodservice operations by 2022. Single-use plastic items include straws, stirrers, bags, cutlery and various packaging materials.
Aramark will implement actions across the 19 countries where it serves 2 billion meals annually in schools and workplaces, sports and leisure venues, hospitals and other locations.
Every year, more than 8 million tons of plastics are leaked into the world’s oceans. According to a recent Aramark consumer survey, the majority (60 percent) of respondents are concerned with the overuse of plastic and nearly 80 percent are trying to reduce personal consumption by recycling and reusing plastic bottles and bags. The primary environmental concern is the impact on marine life and oceans.
“Aramark shares our guests’ passion to protect and preserve our oceans. Today’s announcement provides an opportunity to make meaningful achievements in minimizing our environmental impact, while continuing to deliver experiences that enrich and nourish lives,” said Eric Foss, chairman, president and CEO of Aramark, in a statement. “By working hand-in-hand with our customers and consumers, we can make significant progress in limiting the consumption of single-use plastics, reducing waste before it happens and creating a healthier planet.”
According to the company, the announcement is part of a holistic strategy to address single-use plastics overall, starting with the most visible category of straws and stirrers, offering reusable products, encouraging consumers to join in and looking ahead at design and innovation.
The company’s strategy includes:
- Phasing out use of plastic straws and stirrers, and offering eco-friendly alternatives, where possible, starting September 2018. This will result in a 60 percent decrease in plastic straws by 2020, or nearly 100 million fewer straws annually in the U.S., enough to stretch halfway around the world if placed end to end.
- Prioritizing additional categories to drive reduction of all single-use plastics, such as bags and cutlery.
- Expanding offerings of reusable water bottles, coffee mugs, takeout containers and bags.
- Partnering with suppliers and national brands to reduce packaging through design and innovation.
- Educating and enabling consumers to eliminate or reduce single-use plastics.
- Reporting on progress and challenges to ensure transparency and continuous improvement.
Despite concern for the environment, consumers recognize that special circumstances require continued but decreased use of plastic straws by individuals with special needs and hospital patients. Aramark noted it will continue to make smaller quantities available upon request and will offer eco-friendly alternatives in select locations.
Aramark is aiming for plastic straw and stirrer reduction, with measurable improvement, targeting:
- 100 percent elimination in national parks, higher education residential dining and select business dining locations, representing hundreds of client locations.
- 30- to 60-percent reduction across hundreds of K-12 schools, sports venues and healthcare facilities, and nearly 60 percent reduction in Canadian operations.
The company is also launching a “Sip Smarter” consumer marketing campaign to raise awareness, inform consumers and drive change. The campaign is designed to complement the operational actions with messaging that will help to minimize plastic consumption.