Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company, announced a North American Single-Use Plastics Reduction Plan that will eliminate single-use plastic bags and stirrers by 2019; polystyrene foam items, such as cups, lids and food containers, by 2025; and shift straws to a "by request" item that will still be available to customers who need them while moving toward more sustainable materials.
"As a company serving consumers in universities, workplaces, hospitals, schools, stadiums and so many other venues, we understand both the potential impact we can make through a commitment to reduction and the real benefit that some of these products bring to people every day," said Ted Monk, vice president for corporate responsibility at Sodexo, in a statement. "We believe there's tremendous room for reducing waste without having a single person who uses our services feel like they are being excluded."
According to the company, this plan is merely one step in Sodexo's global effort to reduce environmental impact, as the company will continue to research and introduce new innovations such as reusable materials, bioplastics and organic materials in its effort to eliminate avoidable waste going to landfills.
"We support efforts to prevent waste. However, it's important to remember that for many people, these aren't convenience products, they are necessities,” said Jill Houghton, president and CEO of Disability:IN, in a statement. “We're happy to provide Sodexo with guidance that ensures their facilities are fully inclusive of people with disabilities and are fully accessible to everyone."
Sodexo's policy aims to eliminate more than 245 million pieces of unnecessary single-use items. For plastic straws and stirrers alone, the reduction plan will eliminate a volume of plastic straws and stirrers that, if laid end to end, would reach from North Pole to South Pole—twice.
"Single-use plastic waste often ends up in nature and has a devastating effect on species," said Erin Simon, director of sustainability research and development at World Wildlife Fund, United States, in a statement. "Sodexo's plan to phase out unnecessary single-use plastics is an important first step in their commitment in tackling the plastic waste crisis."
Through its Better Tomorrow 2025 corporate responsibility roadmap, Sodexo said it has committed to eliminating avoidable waste globally by 2025. However, to ensuring quality of life services for people with disabilities, patients in hospitals, seniors and people with food allergies, Sodexo noted it is applying a targeted approach that will avoid the unintended consequences that could accompany full-scale elimination. In addition, the company said it will continue to collaborate with clients, supply partners and nongovernmental organizations on innovative and more sustainable solutions.