Category Archives: general

World Oceans Day

world oceans day 2world oceans day 1As part of World Oceans Day, numerous companies and organisations have used their media influence to raise awareness about the damage we’re doing to our ecosystem and oceans.

The display in these images (spotted locally) was organised by Corona, it is a visual depiction of the average quantity of waste found over a 2 mile stretch of beach in the UK. As you can see, much of this waste is plastic based which can be hugely harmful to wildlife.

As an ethical supplier of catering disposables, much of which is plastic based, we’re always very keen to promote the sustainable usage and correct disposal of our products. We supply large quantities of plastic glasses for events all over the UK; the vast majority of our items are either recyclable or biodegradable.  Any large consumers of disposable items should always have a plan in mind to manage their waste; normally this would involve collecting the used glasses and sorting for recycling. There’s no need for items of this nature to be disposed of with regular waste and sent to landfill. We certainly don’t want to see products dumped into the oceans where they take hundreds of years to break down.

Whether you’re catering a small private party, or a large festival for hundreds of thousands of guests – we’re always happy to advise on the most ethical ways to dispose and manage any waste created. The most effective way to do your part for the oceans is to ensure your waste doesn’t end up there in the future.

World Oceans Day: http://www.worldoceansday.org/

Recycled Plastics?

500ml-plastic-water-bottle-500x500A common theme in 2018 so far seems to revolve around eliminating our dependency on single use disposables and plastics.  Often this seems to be done at a policy maker’s level without enough thought as to the implementation.

We’ve written several articles promoting the benefits of correct sortation and recycling of disposables. Rather than the blanket “ban x product from the shelf” style statements that seem so commonplace, we could drastically reduce the amount of plastics that end up in landfill by simply improving sortation and recycling facilities to allow the waste to be processed.

It’s true that our reliance on disposables can be reduced to some extent, but there will always be a demand for the items (hygiene grounds within the NHS for example). Nearly all plastics are easily processed if sent to the correct facility without contamination.

Evian is an example of a company investing in better recycling facilities and looking to promote a more sustainable use of plastics, bottles in this instance. Their aim is for all plastic bottles to be made from recycled plastics by 2020. Evian is working with governments and waste processors to secure a sufficient supply of recycled plastics to accomplish this. More details at: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/sponsor-content-changing-the-way-we-think-about-plastics/

Hopefully other similar companies will follow suit and get behind plastic recycling schemes.

Recycled plastics used to make “plastic roads”?

thisroadismadefromwasteplasticsWith all the negativity circulating regarding the country’s failure to correctly sort, process and recycle plastic waste, it’s good to see some progress and innovation in the recycling world. It’s no secret that plastic waste (especially from food packaging, plastic cups, bottles etc) is a huge issue worldwide. These plastics are commonly not recycled and end up in landfill; they will then often take hundreds of years to break down.

In 2015 a scheme was trialled where plastic waste was used instead of crude oil to form the bitumen used for paving roads (see https://newatlas.com/vancouver-recycled-plastic-warm-mix-asphalt/25254/). There are numerous benefits to repurposing plastic waste in this manner, not least of which is the potential to vastly reduce plastic waste sent to landfill. Other benefits of this scheme include:

  • Reduced pollution; where plastics would have been potentially been incinerated.
  • Ease of recycling; bitumen can be made from Thermosets, Elastomers and Thermoplastics meaning reduced reliance on complex sorting.
  • Less dependence on crude oil traditionally used in road construction.
  • Plastics can be used to create a more flexible and hard-wearing surface, resistant to breakage and temperature related damage.

In Vancouver there is already widespread use of this process (https://thinkprogress.org/netherlands-company-introduces-plastic-roads-that-are-more-durable-climate-friendly-than-asphalt-ecb7c2a11a50/), even to the extent that modular premade blocks are used.

The only barrier to using waste plastics in this manner is the current lack of scalable infrastructure to collect and sort the waste plastics. With the correct investment and increase awareness of new recycling opportunities we could drastically cut the amount of plastic waste ending up in landfill.

Currently the UK seems more fixated on eliminating the usage of single-use plastics across the board, however this is a rather optimistic and short sighted goal. The simple fact of the matter is that single use plastics like plastic cups are often a necessity. Wouldn’t it be better all round to tackle the real issue here, which is the lack of correct waste collection, recycling and sortation facilities? With increased awareness, subsidies and incentives there’s enormous potential for progress.

Single-use plastic waste and the NHS

recyclebinAs you’ve no doubt noticed, disposables and single-use plastics are very much in the media spotlight at the moment. Much of this started after the airing of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 in late 2017. This highlighted the environmental impact of plastics / microplastics and waste dumping on our oceans and their associated inhabitants.

Above all the series got people thinking about where their packaging goes after disposal. The public has started to question when they choose to use disposables and ask how the material is handled after we’ve finished with it. This has in-turn put pressure on high profile volume users of disposables to look at the way they handle their disposable waste.

In the news today are the results of an investigation into plastic use within the NHS (https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nhs-guilty-binning-staggering-120-12338192). To summarise the report, the plastic waste originating from within the NHS is being disposed of with the regular waste collection. Plastic cups and disposables have their place; in the NHS they represent a sanitary and hygienic option for patients, the issue here is the mishandling of disposable products rather than the specific use of single-use plastics.

Oil based plastics are an easily recyclable commodity, almost without exception. With simple sorting and an appropriate plastic collection the large amount of plastic cups the NHS uses (334,000 per day according to this report) would be recycled and the landfill issue avoided.

We are always keen to encourage the ethical use of disposable plastics, in fact we frequently advise customers on the matter. The media coverage this report will bring should at least be a catalyst for change within the NHS, there is little excuse for not sorting plastic waste and sending it for recycling – recycling facilities are available nationwide and collection schemes widespread.

 

Easter opening hours

580b57fcd9996e24bc43c3c7Due to the Easter break our office is closed from Good Friday (30th March) this week, we reopen after the bank holiday on Tuesday 3rd April. If you need any items delivering before Easter then the deadline is Wednesday 28th March (1pm). We recommend getting your orders in as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Orders placed after 1pm on Wednesday will be dispatched on Thursday and delivered after the bank holiday.

Orders can be processed as normal via our website, you can also give our sales team a call on 0844 4995456 to place an order or for any other queries you may have.

 

Reusable Plastic Glasses and Barware

hiball plastic glassesWe’ve got a huge range of disposable paper and plastic products for most occasions; however we also stock an extensive range of hard plastic reusable items. There are several reasons why you might want to consider a reusable plastic product over a cheaper disposable alternative, such as:

  • Strength
    If you’re catering for a function that specifically requires more substantial glasses, our hard plastic reusable tumblers might be preferable.
  • Potential reuse
    This needs to be calculated on a case-by-case basis, but if it’s possible that the glasses might be reused there’s a point where it becomes more economical to use a reusable glass over a disposable type.
  • Specific style of glass
    Unfortunately not all glass shapes are possible or commonly available in disposable plastic. This can be for a variety of reasons, often because the shape would potentially be too weak for a disposable glass and too prone to breakage. Reusable glasses are available in a much wider variety of styles and have huge inherent strength.
  • Commercial use
    This is the most common reason for using a hard plastic reusable glass; commercial venues are often required to offer an alternative to glassware for after-hours or outdoor usage. This can be a council licencing stipulation, these are rigidly enforced for safety reasons. Polycarbonate reusable glasses are virtually unbreakable making them much safer than glassware in pubs, bars and clubs.

We stock reusable plastic glasses in 2 main material types. A standard hard plastic ‘light use’ type (ECON) which is made from crystal Polystyrene, and a harder plastic virtually unbreakable type (ELITE) made from Polycarbonate. The most suitable type is completely dependent on the intended usage; Polycarbonate glasses tend to be the go-to choice for commercial environments, however Polystyrene glasses are more popular for home or occasional usage. For all intents and purposes they look very similar; the Polycarbonate glasses are thicker and heavier however.

You can find the full reusable barware range reusable plastic glasses on our site at: https://innsupplies.com/reusable

reusable plastic barware

Marine waste and the plastic straw

plastic strawsIt seems that barely a day goes by without another article in the news claiming that plastic straws are littering the UK coastlines, affecting wildlife and upsetting locals. The following article from BBC News (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-42607662) discusses how the Marine Conservation Society is backing a proposed ban (by the Final Straw campaign) on single use plastic straws in Scotland.

The goal here is a sound one in principle, there is litter on UK coastlines and it does indeed affect wildlife; there’s no disputing this. As retailers of single use disposables we’re keen to promote the ethical and responsible use of catering disposables, indeed a large percentage of our range is now biodegradable for this reason.

There is unfortunately a fundamental disconnect between the action being taken to remove these straws and the actual cause of the pollution. The action assumes that because the waste exists it’s a foregone conclusion that it will end up being dumped in the ocean.  Surely a better solution to this would be to target the irresponsible dumping of our waste into the oceans? Sadly pumping waste into the sea at offshore locations is often chosen as the cheapest method of waste disposal, however the capability and infrastructure already exists to process this waste. If sorted properly, a huge percentage can be recycled or repurposed. Studies in America have actually shown that the most efficient way of dealing with waste that cannot be processed is combustion (https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/jun/14/green-waste-distribution-methods-recycling-plastic-oil-epa) ; waste can be used as a fuel, incinerated and turned into usable electricity.

Instead, we seem to be focusing on selective reduction of specific types of waste (such as plastic straws) over reassessing how the country treats waste. Perhaps a more holistic approach is required for tackling pollution on our coastlines?

Plastic straws can be found on our site at: https://innsupplies.com/disposable/drinking-straws

Should we ban the plastic straw?

Straws group resampledThere is a lot of media attention regarding the humble plastic straw, namely pertaining to either reducing our usage or replacing them with a biodegradable alternative instead.

Two specific issues raised by campaigners are the amount of straws ending up in landfill and waste which finds its way into the sea, thereby polluting our oceans.  Plastic straws are commonly made from polypropylene, if disposed of with regular waste this can take a significant amount of time to naturally break down. Figures vary depending on the source, but most agree it’s in the region of 450 years.

The group “Final Straw Cornwall” (http://finalstrawcornwall.co.uk/) is part of the movement that aims to remove plastic straws from bars to reduce the amount of litter on the coastline. This is obviously a worthwhile goal and one that does highlight a valid concern, straws are being disposed of incorrectly and ending up in unsorted waste.

So what do we do? There is the question of what to replace the plastic straw with, if they are indeed to be driven out of pubs / bars / clubs.  In the UK we use 8.5 billion straws every year. Campaigners have suggested that paper straws could be used instead, with an aim of being biodegradable. The issue with this however is that paper itself is an absorbent material in its standard form; it will absorb water and lose its structural integrity.  The combat this, manufacturers of paper straws use a plastic coating as a barrier; this can however render the item non-recyclable.

We’re always keen to promote the ethical and environmentally compliant use of disposable products wherever possible. An obvious option that seems to have been largely overlooked is promoting and enforcing the correct sortation and recycling of plastic straws. Polypropylene is easily and widely recycled along with regular plastic waste, it’s amongst the easier materials to process in fact (more information on plastic recycling: http://www.bpf.co.uk/sustainability/plastics_recycling.aspx).

Removing plastic straws from bars in their entirety would be a near impossible task; however changing practices in disposal would be the most efficient way of removing unwanted littering and reducing landfill usage.

It’s for this reason that we currently offer a range of recyclable plastic straws over a paper alternative, these can be found on our plastic straws page at: https://innsupplies.com/disposable/drinking-straws

If you’ve got any questions about this or any other sustainability issues, please feel free to get in touch at: https://innsupplies.com/contact-us

Crazy About Coffee

Crazy about coffee: the UK’s love affair with coffee

Whether it’s cappuccinos for the commute or an after-meal Americano, us Brits are crazy about coffee. The culture is engrained in the way we live — but how did it all begin and where is our love of java taking us? Paper coffee cup retailer, Inn Supplies, explores.

 

The growth of coffee shops

Over the past six years, the landscape of coffee shops in the UK has shifted dramatically — much to the delight of coffee-loving Brits. Nowadays, brands like Starbucks and Costa are household names, with outlets found in the majority of British towns and cities.
However, less than ten years ago, the number of these big-player coffee shops was considerably less. Costa’s growth is perhaps the most impressive — back in 2010, the chain had 658 coffee shops in the UK. In just a five-year period, that figure had grown by more than double to 1,582.
Although widely regarded as one of the world’s biggest brands, the number of Starbucks coffee shops in the UK is surprisingly low. In 2010, there were 595 outlets. By 2015, this figure had grown by just 124, taking the total to 719. While still dwarfed by Costa’s market share, the increase still illustrates our growing love affair with coffee.
In fact, all of the UK’s big coffee brands, including Caffè Nero, Pret A Manger and Wild Bean Cafe have witnessed growth in their number of retail outlets.
Other brands are trying to get a cup of the action too. Greggs has been steadily introducing coffee to their offering, growing the number of shops serving coffee from 1,269 in 2010 to 1,621 in 2015. In fact, as of 2015, 39% of the coffee market was occupied by non-specialist outlets, like pubs and supermarkets.
It’s no secret that pubs are struggling to keep up with the changing economic climate. The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) reports that an average of 27 pubs are closing each week, with 1,088 shutting their doors between June and December 2015. The attachment of pubs to the thriving coffee industry works to underline the popularity and success of the shops.

 

How much coffee are we drinking and who’s drinking it?

Naturally, the growth in coffee shops is fuelled by a growing demand for java. According to research from Mintel, almost three quarters of Britons now buy coffee when out and about. This lifestyle is most popular in the 16-34 age category, with 81% doing so.
Further research from Kantar Worldwide found that 80% of coffee shop fans visit an outlet at least once a week. Some 16% of hardcore coffee lovers visit every day.
We drink an estimated 55 million cups of coffee each day in the UK. Over the course of the year, around two billion of these cups come from coffee shops. In 2015, we spent £7.9 billion in UK coffee shops. Showing a 10% increase on the previous year, this expenditure is set to soar again in the coming years.
Allegra predicts that by 2025, coffee shops in Britain will achieve a £15 billion turnover. To support this growth in revenue, the number of outlets is expected to expand too. The 20,728 coffee outlets recorded at the end of 2015 is set to grow to in excess of 30,000 shops.
With our love for coffee growing stronger by the day, there are no signs of the industry slowing. Anyone fancy a coffee?

 

Sources:

Breaking The Bank

As an employer, one of your main responsibilities is managing your business expenditure. Keeping costs down helps to maximise profits, but it’s the hidden expenses that can quickly mount up.
Have you ever considered just how much staff breaks are costing you? Inn Supplies looks beyond the brews to work out where your money is going.

 

Regulations

Of course, while staff breaks may be costing you money, your employees are entitled to them. If your employees work for longer than six hours, they are entitled to a 20-minute uninterrupted break. Those who smoke are also allowed to take regular cigarette breaks.
The regulations are a little different for young workers who are over 16 but under 18. If they work for longer than 4.5 hours, they are entitled to a 30-minute break.
You are only required to offer paid breaks if it is outlined in your employees’ contracts.

Reality

While the government outlines the minimum, the actual number of breaks your staff takes will likely be higher. For example, making cups of tea and going to the toilet will all eat into your staff’s productive time, temporarily removing them from their responsibilities. So, how much is each break really costing you?

 

Tea breaks

It’s no secret that Britain loves tea. Each day, we spend a total of 24 minutes brewing up at work. Over the course of an individual’s working life, that equates to 188 days and 21 hours. For employees, the humble tea round costs them £400 per employee per year. This figure is based on the average UK wage of £26,000, so those on higher salaries could be costing you even more!
As well as considering the lost time, the vast majority of employers also cover the cost of tea, coffee, milk, sugar and paper cups, where necessary. While this cost is influenced by a number of factors, including location and company size, research has been carried out to determine what this potential cost could be.
According to research by Epiphany, employers will pay 21p more for tea-making supplies in London than they would in Hull. In London, the price per cuppa is 69p, the most expensive in the UK, and in Hull, it’s just 48p.
Around half of workers drink four or more cups a day and 33% drink between one and three cups. Only 20% don’t drink any. Working on this basis, a 50-strong business in Hull could be paying £64.32* a day just for tea and coffee supplies. This figure is even more shocking in London, where it rises to £92.46.

 

Toilet breaks

The average employee can visit the toilet between six and seven times a day. Assuming that three of these visits are at work and each lasts four minutes each, an employee could be costing you 92p each time they go to the loo — or £662.50 a year!**
The cost of bathroom essentials isn’t included in this figure either, meaning the potential expense could be even higher.

 

Smoking breaks

Over the course of the year, employees who smoke can cost their employer £1,815. One in five British workers smoke, so a workplace with 50 employees — including 10 smokers — could be paying £18,150 annually.
*Worked out on the basis that 25 employees (50%) will drink four cups a day and 17 employees (33%) will drink two cups a day. Two was selected as the median value from the range. These figures were then multiplied with the cost per cup to generate the final value.
**This was calculated using Plumbworld’s toilet calculator and is based on a yearly salary of £26,500.