Author Archives: Charles Stirling

New PLA biodegradable straws

Straws GroupOur new PLA biodegradable straws have just arrived, initially available as 5mm black, 6mm black and white 9mm smoothie straws. These look and feel like plastic straws but are made from cornstarch based PLA – this means they break down naturally and feature no oil based plastics. 8mm PLA spoons straws are also being introduced shortly to complete the range.

We’ve now got 3 main ranges of disposable straws, the classic polypropylene plastic straws, biodegradable paper straws and biodegradable PLA straws.

Polypropylene plastic straws have the lowest cost per unit. As with any single use plastics there’s no environmental issue with using these at all as long as they’re able to be collected and recycled correctly.

For those customers that require a biodegradable alternative, there is the choice of classic style paper straws or PLA straws. Both of these will break down naturally and comply with any current council and event site mandates regarding biodegradability.

Please see our biodegradable straws category for more information at:https://innsupplies.com/biodegradable/biodegradable-straws

 

Special offer on plastic pint and half pint flexi glasses

Flexi dispoBy popular demand we’ve extended our offer price on the 20 and 10oz (pint and half pint to brim) disposable flexible plastic tumblers.

While this offer lasts our 10oz half pint glasses are £25 per case (1000), 20oz pints are £32.00 per case (1000).

These vacuum formed polypropylene glasses are hugely popular during the summer months for outdoor festivals and events in particular. As the name suggests they’re designed to flex rather than crack which makes cleaning up after use much easier, glasses can be collected and compacted ready for recycling.

Polypropylene plastic is one of the most widely recycled plastics; it can be recycled by any plastic processing facility in the UK when used in large quantities. For use in the home, they can simply be recycled with the normal household plastic waste.

 

Guide to plastic types

recyclebinWe’ve put together a brief overview of the types of plastic you’ll encounter when buying disposable or reusable catering supplies from our store. There a several different types each with their own properties and characteristics.

Knowing the type of plastic used can make a difference to your choice of glasses for an event or the supplies you use in a pub, bar or club.

A summary of the various plastic types is included below, along with the relevant plastic recycling code. If you’re running an event and need to put procedures in place to recycle the materials used, you can check the facilities at processing plants / collections available in your area for this code.

#7 PLA PP (Polylactic Acid)

This cornstarch based product has gained huge popularity since 2018 as a replacement for traditional plastics, both in linings used on paper products and for disposable glasses themselves. We offer a range of paper cups that use PLA as a lining, this allows them to be full biodegradable as PLA breaks down naturally. The PLA plastic glasses offer a similar feel and appearance to the glossy PET glasses; however they are recognisable by a slightly yellow tint.

 #1 PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

This is a glossy and completely clear form of plastic, commonly used for smoothie cups and other colourful drinks where appearance is especially important. They have a level of flexibility between polypropylene and crystal polystyrene, not easily broken at all. Even if the items are intentionally cracked they tend to stay in a since piece and do not shatter. This makes them easily usable at festivals and outdoor events.

 #7 Polycarbonate (PC)

You’d encounter polycarbonate when looking at our extensive range of reusable plastic glasses. This is a rigid and extremely strong form of plastic, so strong in fact that it’s what police riot shields are made from. For all intents and purposes this material is near indestructible in use; it can be dropped, stepped on, crushed etc. Polycarbonate is more expensive so these glasses tend to cost more, you’ll find this used in plastic glasses designed to replace traditional glassware.

 #5 PP (Polypropylene)

This is a very commonly encountered plastic, used for a huge variety of different glasses. It is recognisable by its slightly opaque appearance. The material has a high degree of natural flexibility which makes it very resistant to cracking or other similar damage. Thinner polypropylene glasses can be squashed flat when collected after a festival for example, this leaves no small shards of plastic. Thicker polypropylene glasses such as our Katerglass range have huge natural strength due to the thicker sidewalls while still maintaining a level of flexibility.

 #6 PS (Crystal Polystyrene)

A very rigid and completely clear form of plastic, traditionally used for stemmed glasses but can also be found in other disposable tumblers where the glass cannot have a clouded appearance. Crystal polystyrene will maintain its shape and has a small degree of flexibility; it’s great in terms of appearance and can be made to look almost like glassware to the untrained eye. The only downside is that if the item is damaged it can shatter into smaller pieces, it’s also more fragile than other forms of plastic on this list. A lot of formal glasses are made from crystal polystyrene, champagne flutes and wineglasses for example.

Single use plastics at event sites

champ 2017We’ve seen a couple of customers recently have trouble dealing with organisers at event sites when it comes to the types of catering disposables they’re using. There seems to be a lot of miscommunication with regards to environmental policy and what is / isn’t acceptable in terms of materials.

A recent example saw new rules issued to one of our customers the day before their event, within 24 hours they had new compliance mandates to which they had to conform. This mainly concerned the type of plastic used; certification was required for the purity of the plastic and suitability for any recycling as well as a plan for collection.

In this instance it was our popular disposable plastic champagne flutes. These are made from pure 100% virgin grade crystal polystyrene, a material that is very easily recycled at any processing facility in the UK. They’re a highly economical and eco-friendly (as long as they’re recycled!) solution to serving prosecco or champagne at event sites.

The customer solved the issue with the organisers after forwarding on our certification documents and putting in place a plan for collection, namely a deposit per glass which was refunded when the item was returned for recycling. This was very effective and meant basically zero additional clean-up was required.

We’re always keen to work together with customers to meet the requirements of event sites and council owned venues – there’s nearly always a simple solution that enables disposable catering supplies to be used effectively. Please feel free to get in touch if you come across issues of this nature, we’re happy to offer advice.

New products and updates

bio ripple groupRegular visitors will have noticed we’ve launched a record number of new product ranges this year, a quick flip through our blog updates will show how many new items we’ve added to our range lately. We tend to announce the arrival of any new products with a blog update with an overview of the item details and link to the product pages etc, however we’ve decided to add a dedicated “new products” page so you can see the most recently added items on our site. You can find this at: https://innsupplies.com/new-products.

The bulk of new products over the past 12 months have been biodegradable tableware and catering supplies. This is a reaction to massively increased market demand for biodegradable items. We’ve sought to offer a biodegradable alternative to the majority of our range for customers who want to switch to these products.

In addition to the usual site updates we also publish lots of pictures (and indeed special offers) on our Instagram page, make sure you follow us to stay up to date with new items and promotions: https://www.instagram.com/innsupplies/

As with any items from our product catalogue,  we’re happy to send samples of anything you’d like to see prior to purchase, simply get in touch with our friendly sales team.

Biodegradable Paper Cup Types Explained

mixed groupInitially when biodegradable paper cups were first introduced into the UK they arrived in the most common variety, the single wall paper cup. This was the same as the regular recyclable cup but with a PLA lining instead of a PE (plastic) lining.

As biodegradability has become an exponentially important aspect of disposables, demand has increased sharply. As such the range of cup types available for customers who require a biodegradable paper cup is greater than ever.

We stock the following types of biodegradable cups:

  • Single wall “Ingeo” PLA paper cups
  • Double wall “Ingeo” PLA paper cups
  • Insulated ripple wall “Ingeo” PLA paper cups
  • Bamboo compostable paper cups
  • Triple layer “Ultimate” bamboo compostable paper cups

Our range now covers all the common cup types available, meaning there’s a biodegradable alternative to any of our regular ranges of disposable cups. The different levels of insulation work the exact same way as our non-biodegradable cups:

  • Single wall (including bamboo): The most popular variety, lowest cost per unit but only basic heat insulation.
  • Double Wall: An extra layer of insulation, much better heat retention and more comfortable to hold. Smooth outer wall.
  • Insulated Ripple: The best level of heat insulation has a tactile “rippled” outer which further improves insulation.
  • Triple Layer “ultimate” bamboo: The same high level of insulation as the ripple cups, but with a smooth outer wall.

Please feel free to get in touch with our friendly sales team with any queries you may have about our range of biodegradable paper cups.

 

Plastics and Outdoor Events / Festivals

Econ Pint RangeThe use of plastics at event sites has come under scrutiny in the past couple of years due to the increased focus on sustainability and other environmental concerns.

Traditionally any outdoor event of reasonable size / volume would use low cost disposable plastic glasses. These are great for single use due to their thin plastic and low cost per unit, however some event sites or councils have sought to discourage the use of these glasses. There are various mandates in place, although this depends on the specific area.

The most basic requirement is that there must be a system in place to effectively collect the waste and process the plastics used for recycling. This makes absolute sense and really should be done regardless. The most commonly use vacuum formed polypropylene glasses are very easily recycled by any plastic processing facility, this just need the correct sortation and collection.

2 Pint Katerglass2Another restriction we’ve come across is a stipulation that all disposables used must be biodegradable. This makes the choice of plastics slightly more difficult as the usual polypropylene glasses are not biodegradable. Instead we offer biodegradable plastic glasses made from cPLA / cornstarch which will degrade naturally. Another alternative is to use biodegradable paper products where appropriate. The obvious downside of this stipulation is that the unit costs are noticeably higher than regular single-use disposables, a cost that may well end up being felt by the event attendees.

The most severe restriction is when an event site has a blanket ban on any disposable items, this means even biodegradable products cannot be used and the organisers will need to be more inventive in order to offer drinks to customers. We’ve got a wide range of reusable plastic glasses which are ideal for this purpose; these come in all shapes and sizes. The cost per unit is much higher on these items so it will be necessary to ensure the glasses are returned for reuse, normally through a deposit system that ensures customers can’t walk away with the glass without a surcharge. It’s also possible to use this as an opportunity to add value to your product, perhaps using branded glasses or a more attractive vessel than the usual tumbler style.

If you encounter any of these restrictions our experienced team can help you find a solution that works, simply get in touch.

Biodegradable PLA Plastic Pint and Half Pint Glasses

beer group1Disposable plastic pint and half pint glasses are a mainstay of the festival scene through the summer months, you’ll see these everywhere from beer tents to bars at event sites, or even used for soft drinks.

Typically these glasses are vacuum formed Polypropylene plastic, this gives them great flexibility and it’s where their name “flexi glasses” is derived from. This is by design so the product cannot shatter into multiple pieces; it aids site clean-ups and is good for safety reasons too. Once disposed of the glasses can be compacted and take up minimal space.

Although Polypropylene can be easily recycled by any plastic recycling plant in the UK, it’s becoming increasingly common that disposable glasses at event sites need to be made from a biodegradable material rather than just a recyclable plastic. For this reason we’ve launched a new range of PLA biodegradable plastic pint and half pint glasses. These are made from PLA, a cornstarch based raw material and contain no plastics.

Where a mandate is in place to use a biodegradable product these glasses are ideal. The bar / venue etc can continue to use a disposable item where a ban on single use plastics is in place. Alternatively, there are plenty of customers who wish to use only biodegradable items for their own reasons – these items give you an alternative to the usual Polypropylene flexi glasses.

We offer these new glasses in all the popular flexi glasses sizes:

  • 10oz (half pint to brim)
  • 12oz (half pint to line
  • 20oz (pint to brim)
  • 22oz (pint to line)

These are CE stamped and approved in the UK by weights & measures, samples available on request.

You can find biodegradable plastic cups items on our website at:https://innsupplies.com/biodegradable/biodegradable-plastic-cups

Coffee market growth despite increased focus on sustainability

mixed groupAny industry that uses or depends on disposables will have experienced a turbulent couple of years, mainly following the huge global focus on sustainability and single use plastics / disposables etc.  A lot of media attention has centered around franchised coffee chains as they’re a very visible user of disposable products, namely disposable paper coffee cups.

Various coffee chains, such as Boston Tea Party for example, have sought to ban single use paper cups from their business entirely. Others have vouched to replace traditional plastic lined paper cups with biodegradable or compostable options in order to tick that all-important environmentally aware box. We’ve also seen the rise of schemes designed to recycle the plastic lined paper cups using a specific process to separate the plastic content first.

Initially there was a lot of skepticism of such schemes, especially in relation to how they’d affect the core business, and in turn, profitability. In reality however the takeaway coffee industry has continued to flourish and indeed grow. The UK market has doubled in size (£bn) between 2010 and 2018 and is forcasted to grow at an average of 6.8% per annum for next 6 years.

Some industry leaders have actually commented on how aligning themselves with current environmental concerns and trends has actually been instrumental to their growth. Quite the opposite of what analysts originally predicted. Commercial valuations specialists Christie & Co recently published an interesting roundup of opinions of their blog at: https://www.christie.com/news-resources/blogs/june-2019/propel-coffee-conference-2019-highlights-innovatio/?viewmode=0

UK consumers drink 3.3kg of coffee per head / per year (2015), however this is still behind USA and developed European competitors (4.5 – 6.5kg). Market trends and buying patterns suggest that the coffee to go market will continue to grow, and that it will simply learn to adapt in terms of reliance on disposables. This will be either through new compostable coatings or better collection, sortation and recycling facilities.

 

Biodegradable 7oz PLA Water Cooler Cups

Water Cups 01These are a very common item, frequently used in offices or schools; normally alongside a water cooler / dispenser or vending machine.

Traditionally these cups have been made from either Polypropylene or Polystyrene, depending on the source and manufacturer of the product. Despite some recent press regarding single use disposable plastics, in this sort of environment the waste is actually very easily managed. The cups tend to be used close to the water cooler itself so all that’s required is a bin for plastic waste only. After collection the waste plastic cups can be sent for recycling – Polypropylene and Polystyrene are accepted by all plastic waste processing plants.

The new cup we’ve launched today is a biodegradable PLA / corn starch based version of the most popular 7oz size of water cooler cup, designed for customers that want to use a biodegradable version instead of a traditional plastic version. For all intents and purposes these look and feel the same, however they feature no plastic; they’re made from corn starch derived PLA (Polylactic Acid). This has the added benefit of breaking down naturally.

In public sector offices especially we’re finding that mandates are in place to use biodegradable plastics only, this item is ideal for replacing traditional plastic cups in this environment.

These new biodegradable plastic cups are available straight away from stock with next day delivery available. Samples can be requested by getting in touch with our sales team. You can find these new biodegradable plastic cups on our site at: https://innsupplies.com/biodegradable/biodegradable-plastic-cups