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.

Early Findings

Insights on the Effect of COVID-19 on Sustainable Practices in the Hospitality Industry in the U.S.

  • 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.

Proposed next steps:

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