COVID-19: Effects on Sustainable Practices in the Hospitality Industry
To provide an understanding of the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the sustainable practices in the hospitality industry, especially relating to single-use products like straws, cutlery, and packaging containers. This may include industry statistics as well as examples of companies whose sustainability practices have been affected (positively or negatively) by the pandemic. This information will be used in a go-to-market strategy for a brand that sells eco-friendly single-use products like straws cutlery, and to-go containers.
Insights on the Effect of COVID-19 on Sustainable Practices in the Hospitality Industry in the U.S.
- A decrease in global oil prices has led to a corresponding decrease in the price of plastics. Consequently, "companies are making tough decisions about whether recycling of plastics is still an economically viable option," and "consumer brands, such as beverage companies, could have difficulty meeting previous commitments to adopt more sustainable practices."
- In the U.S., at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, states suspended or delayed bans and other laws designed to reduce disposable plastic including California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Maine. By late June, cities and states had temporarily suspended almost 50 single-use item reduction policies across the U.S. – mainly bans plastic bag bans. California and Massachusetts have since re-instated the bans.
- The CDC issued advice that restaurants reopening after the pandemic should use all disposable plates and foodware to guard against the spread of the virus.
- While restaurants and cafes have closed for in-house services, there has been an increase in takeaway orders and a temporary ban on reusable coffee cups.
- Due to the pandemic confidence in programs for reusable and refillable containers has reached an all-time low. Companies like "Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, and McDonalds – brands that recently voiced commitments to weaning off disposable foodware – swiftly announced the suspension of bring-your-own (BYO) container programs in the initial weeks of the pandemic." have limited the multiple use containers being brought back into the store. Specifically Starbucks has banned the use of reusable cups and food containers.
- In another example, the Little Chihuahua restaurant that had achieved distinction by providing reusable foodware for dine-in and encouraged customers to bring their own bags, is "now only offering takeout."
- With the changes in practice that has resulted in an increase in plastic use, restaurants have seen an increase in costs, in some cases, doubling.
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