Manchester’s restaurants and coffee shops are leading the way when it comes to making the city greener.
It comes after Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and ex-footballer turned hotelier, Gary Neville, launched the first ever city-wide plan to drive down the use of single-use plastics at the Green Summit in March in a bid to make Manchester plastic-free by 2020.
The plastic-free pledge came after the River Tame, which flows through Greater Manchester, was declared the most polluted river in the world.
As a result of the pledge, the city saw many of its leading businesses in hospitality begin to make an effort to reduce their plastic waste.
UN Environment also published a report earlier this year, unveiling the grave statistics about plastic waste.
“Single-use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability” outlined the catastrophic affects that plastic waste is having on cities around the world and emphasised the importance of breaking “the global addiction to single-use plastics.”
Five months on, pub giant, Wetherspoons, along with many independent cafes and restaurants in the Northern Quarter, have already replaced their plastic straws with biodegradable alternatives.
Bundobust, the critically acclaimed “beer and Indian” joint, is an example of a small business making a conscious effort to be entirely plastic-free.
Although originally a street food stall and dedicated to using plant-based materials from day one, Bundobust has set a precedent, showing other small businesses in the city the importance of making ethical choices.
Restaurant Manager, Eden Young, said: “We stopped putting straws in every soft drink and put them on the bar if customers wanted them.
“Even though they are biodegradable it is not an excuse to put everything in the drink and throw it away. We still need to try and not use them.”
According to UN Environment’s report, the most common finds during international coastal clean-ups are single-use plastics including food wrappers, plastic grocery bags and straws and stirrers.
Ms Young said: “We need to rely on the people that are higher up, like McDonald’s. It’s not hard to make a conscious decision to one week order plastic straws and the next week order biodegradable.
“We need to be looking at people like that to change and influence everyone.”
This week, Starbucks became the largest food and beverage company to announce it will eliminate single-use plastic straws by making a straw-less lid and alternative-material straw options available.
This announcement will, in turn, encourage more companies across the city to sign the plastic-free pledge, making the mayor’s goal evermore attainable.
Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim made it clear that switching from disposable plastic to sustainable alternatives is an investment in the long-term future of our environment.
With less than one fifth of plastic being recycled globally, the report stresses that “it is more expensive to clean up tomorrow than to prevent plastic pollution today.”
He said: “Plastic isn’t the problem. It’s what we do with it. And that means the onus is on us to be far smarter in how we use this miracle material.”