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PastaMania, Accor hotels among 270 Singapore F&B outlets phasing out plastic straws by July 1

IN a major industry push to reduce plastic disposables, more than 270 food and beverage (F&B) outlets in Singapore will phase out plastic straws by July 1.

This will cut down on an estimated "tens of thousands" of plastic straws per company every year, conservation organisation World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said in a media statement on Monday.

The initiative will see some of the largest players in the industry, as well as independent cafes and caterers, providing straws only on request or for specific medical reasons.

Hotel operator Accor Group, which runs Raffles, Swissotel, Fairmont, Softitel, Novotel and other hotel brands, is among the companies making this commitment. Accor also said it will reduce single-use disposable plastics at all its properties by end-2019.

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Other F&B businesses in the initiative include PastaMania, Sodexo, Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre, Wildlife Reserves Singapore which manages the Singapore Zoo, A Poke Theory, SaladStop!, Nando’s Singapore and Guzman y Gomez.

The commitment is part of Plastic ACTion (Pact), a WWF initiative supported by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Zero Waste SG. Pact is a business coalition launched by WWF earlier this year, which has grown to 15 companies committed to large-scale industry collaboration for a circular economy on plastics.

Pek Hai Lin, manager of Zero Waste SG, said: “With more people now opting to bring their own reusable containers, bags or straws, we hope to see the movement encourage businesses to reduce other single-use plastic disposables too.”

Businesses can help to reduce the excessive use of plastics, seeing as 62 per cent of consumers in Singapore use plastic straws only because they come with a purchased drink, according to a recent survey, WWF-Singapore said.

Nine out of 10 people in Singapore recognise the environmental problems caused by disposable plastic, a YouGov survey commissioned by WWF in November-December 2018 showed. The biggest sources of disposable plastic in Singapore were also flagged to be the F&B sector (76 per cent of respondents) and the food retail sector (71 per cent).

There is an urgent need to slash plastic waste and establish a circular economy for the material, given the limited space in the Semakau Landfill as well as the potential impact of ocean plastic pollution on human health, economies and livelihoods, and the use of fossil fuels in the plastics industry, WWF said.

WWF and Zero Waste SG will continue to work with the F&B industry to reduce other unnecessary plastics, such as stirrers, cutlery and plastic bottles, while coming up with measures and innovations to tackle the plastic problems.

Companies under Pact's voluntary business coalition start with removing unnecessary plastics, while reviewing product design, switching to sustainable alternatives or contributing to end-use markets.