Aramark pledges reduction in single-use plastics

The foodservice management company is the latest to disavow single-use plastics, committing to significantly reducing the use of these items across its global operations by 2022.

The primary environmental concern related to single-use plastics for many consumers is the impact on marine life and oceans.
The primary environmental concern related to single-use plastics for many consumers is the impact on marine life and oceans.

Aramark, a global provider of food, facilities management, and uniforms, has committed to significantly reducing 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

Reports Aramark, every year more than 8 million tons of plastics are leaked into the world’s oceans. According to a recent consumer survey by the company, a majority (60%) of consumers are concerned with the overuse of plastic, and nearly 80% 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, Aramark Chairman, President, and CEO, when the announcement was made. “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.”

The announcement is part of a holistic strategy by Aramark to address single-use plastics overall, starting with the most visible category of straws and stirrers. The company’s single-use plastic reduction strategy includes:

  • Phasing out the use of plastic straws and stirrers, and offering eco-friendly alternatives where possible starting September 2018. This will result in a 60% 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, take-out containers, and bags.
  • Partnering with its suppliers and national brands to reduce packaging through design and innovation.
  • Educating and enabling consumers to eliminate or reduce single-use plastics.
  • Reporting on its progress and challenges to ensure transparency and continuous improvement.

Says Aramark, despite concern for the environment, consumers recognize that special circumstances require continued, although decreased, use of plastic straws by individuals with special needs and hospital patients. The company will continue to make smaller quantities available upon request and will also offer eco-friendly alternatives in select locations.

Aramark is aiming for plastic straw and stirrer reduction, targeting 100% elimination in national parks, higher education residential dining, and select business dining locations, representing hundreds of client locations; a 30% to 60% reduction across hundreds of K-12 schools, sports venues, and healthcare facilities; and a nearly 60% 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 minimize plastic consumption. Signs will be included in operational merchandising to alert customers about the changes, where they can still find straws upon request, and ways they can reduce personal consumption of single-use plastics.

More in Sustainability