Driving change by shopping sustainably
Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the way their buying habits make an impact on the environment and many businesses are realising that they need to drive a positive change to support this. Increased media exposure to the damage caused by single-use plastics, such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II, has caused consumers to ask what they can do to help the environment right now. And more shoppers are making conscious decisions to buy less plastic, less packaging and less single-use products.
There are many ways to improve your businesses environmental footprint – starting with the products on offer. From bio-plastics made from bamboo, wheat or even banana skins to premium hardwood materials certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), Bira Direct has negotiated exclusive offers and discounts on products that are sourced sustainably and with reduced environmental impact.
A study by the BBC in April 2018 found that 99.75% of takeaway coffee cups don’t get recycled and in 2011 it was estimated that 2.5 billion coffee cups were thrown away, a figure that is likely to have risen by now. Bio-plastics are made using an organic biomass such as bamboo or wheat rather than petroleum. Most of these plastics are biodegradable and use less greenhouse gases to make than their petroleum-based counterparts. Other benefits of bio-plastics include a reduction of landfill waste and because bio-plastics are currently BPA free (Bisphenol A , which may interfere with the endocrine glands, which release hormones around the body) they offer an alternative to the potential impact of BPA in consumer goods.
Some of the biggest sellers of coffee in the UK, including Costa and Starbucks have facilities to recycle coffee cups. However, this is only for cups that are disposed of in store, cups that end up in household waste, dropped as litter or in a bin on the high street generally end up in landfill.
Independents have steadily led the way on reducing coffee cup waste. Independent coffee chain Boston Tea Party recently became the first coffee chain to completely ban disposable coffee cups and pressure has been growing on businesses and the government to deal with the problem of disposable coffee cup waste. Last year to mark the start of the London Coffee Festival several independent coffee shops called on major chains to do more in an open letter to the Independent newspaper.
The current incentive from big chains for customers to bring their own reusable cups include a discount of 25p from Costa and Starbucks and double rewards from Café Nero, whereas Pret a Manger offers a more generous discount of 50p for customers with reusable cups.
Bira Direct can offer members exclusive offers on reusable cups and food storage solutions from H&H, Dexam, EPE, black + blum, Lesser and Pavey and Global Journey. Bira members can diversify their product range by providing environmentally friendly products at a competitive price point. Also, by strategically merchandising these products by the till you can encourage customers to make an unplanned purchase.
It’s not just coffee cup waste that accounts for overflowing landfill and islands of rubbish in our oceans and waterways. Single-use plastics are a huge cause of damage to the environment and by the year 2050 it’s predicted that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
As part of the 25-year Environment Plan, the government ban of the sale and distribution of single-use plastics is likely to come into force between October 2019 and October 2020 and consumers are already looking into more environmentally responsible alternatives. Bira Direct supplier Dexam offers a range of alternatives to single-use plastics such as metal straws and paper straws at an exclusive discount to Bira members.
Being environmentally focused is nothing new to the brand If You Care, which launched in 1990. They were the first to start offering unbleached coffee filters, moving to unbleached parchment baking paper and baking cups and now offer a range of products for household, baking and cookware needs that are also good for the environment. There are exclusive discounts available on this brand from Bira Direct Supplier Eddingtons.
Environmental Secretary Michael Gove said “I commend retailers, bars and restaurants that have already committed to removing plastic straws and stirrers. But we recognise we need to do more. Today we step-up our efforts to turn the tide on plastic pollution and ensure we leave our environment in a better state than we inherited it.”