Zero Waste Scotland is calling on hospitality businesses to take steps to slash single-use waste, after a pilot scheme saw a huge fall in the use of common disposable items.

The organisation’s Ditching Disposables initiative, which launched in 2021, saw a number of methods aimed at reducing the use of disposables trialled across multiple businesses.

Zero Waste Scotland targeted its scheme at businesses based in Portobello and Joppa.

After a 12-month period the pilot identified six steps businesses can take to slash single-use waste. These include switching sauce sachets for refillable bottles; charging for single-use cups and offering a reusable alternative; and making straws available on request only.

Other measures include putting napkins on tables rather than elsewhere; offering reusable takeaway containers for a deposit; and only making stirrers available on request.

Businesses that took part in the trial include Civerinos, The Cake and Candy Tearoom, Malvarosa, and ShrimpWreck.

Over the course of 2021, Civerinos and The Cake and Candy Tearoom cut sauce sachet use by 99%, while ShrimpWreck and Malvarosa reduced napkin use by 64%.

Overall, the pilot led to a monthly saving of 266kg C02eq and 16,273 single-use items, as well as saving the businesses money over the long term.

A Zero Waste Scotland spokesperson said:

“The Ditching Disposables scheme has been a huge success, proving that with a few simple changes, hospitality businesses can have a dramatic effect on reducing their single-use waste.

“We know that two massive barriers these businesses face when adopting more sustainable practices are time and money. But this scheme demonstrates that time invested in implementing these small changes can have a substantial positive effect on the environment and business’ finances and the majority of them are incredibly quick and easy to implement.

“As Scotland continues to move away from a throwaway culture to a more circular economy, initiatives like our Ditching Disposables study are vital in showing solutions are available and can be implemented successfully.”

Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said:

“We are committed to reducing waste across Scotland’s economy and these results show that small changes can go a long way in doing that.

“Last year, Scotland became the first country in the UK to ban many of the most problematic single-use plastic items. The best alternative to single-use plastic is always reusable items and I hope the findings of this pilot will encourage businesses to ditch disposables wherever possible.

“To help accelerate progress, we will be introducing mandatory charges for singleuse coffee cups and are bringing forward an ambitious Bill that will support Scotland’s transition to a circular economy and increase reuse and recycling rates.”

Scotland banned the manufacture and supply of some of the most problematic plastic (including compostable plastic) single-use items on June 1 2022.

The Ditching Disposables study was intended to demonstrate steps the hospitality sector can take as it shifts away from single-use items, regardless of what they are made from, to reusable options.

For more information on how to ditch disposables, visit the website. To download the full Ditching Disposables report, visit our webpage here.