Chennai

TN hotels embrace plastic ban, say rates might go up

Changed scenario: Many hotels have started using eco-friendly alternatives to plastic items. file photo

Changed scenario: Many hotels have started using eco-friendly alternatives to plastic items. file photo  

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Say adequate supply of eco-friendly a concern; plan to pass on higher cost incurred due to use of alternatives to customers

Ever since the ban on plastics was announced by the Tamil Nadu government, hotels and restaurants across the State are working on various options and some have even adopted innovative methods.

While some hotels have embraced the traditional methods, some have asked customers to bring in their own vessels for takeaways.

Hotel Saravana Bhavan, one of the largest food chains, has informed all its branches to stop using plastic and start using paper-based products. Similarly, Dindigul Thalappakatti has started using wooden spoons and paper straws. Its Managing Director, Sathish D. Nagasamy, said instructions had been given to all their branches to use paper bags. “Over 30% of our business is through takeaways,” he added.

Sastharam Ravendran, founder, Madras Curry Cup, said, “We were using a combination of glass, eco-friendly plates like paaku mattai and thonnai at some outlets, bio-degradable carry bags, and thicker reuse capable plastics boxes with 60 ppi or more that the government has not banned.”

Hoteliers across Chennai said that they are prepared for the ban but the biggest challenge is demand-supply. Since everyone is now looking at alternative options, there is a huge shortage.

“My supplier has said that he does not have sufficient cloth bags to give me. Supply is a constraint,” said a city-based hotelier. He added, “Prices of eco- friendly products could have been subsidised. Or input credit tax could have been enabled for restaurants, so it would have helped us offset the price hike. Now we have no choice but to absorb part of the cost increase and pass a part to the consumer.” Many hotels have indicated that they would have to increase the rates on their menu cards.

Vivek Srinivasan, executive director, Sree Annapoorna Sree Gowrishankar Hotels, said the cost of a south Indian meal could go up by nearly ₹30 if we cannot use plastic pouches to pack liquid food items, such as sambar and rasam.”

A south Indian meal will have at least eight varieties of food. “We use plastic pouches now. We can go in for bio pouches but might not be able to pack hot food in it. So the option is to go in for plastic containers that can be reused,” he said. Hotel Nalan, which has two branches in Coimbatore, has asked its customer to bring containers for takeaways.

Food delivery firms

Food delivery platforms are prepared for the plastic ban and are working with hotels across Chennai. “We plan to give benefits to restaurants that are shifting to eco-friendly packaging by providing them additional marketing visibility benefits on our platforms — app and web. This will help offset any additional cost for partner outlets through higher customer interest,” said a spokesperson of Zomato.

The spokesperson further added, “Bamboo products [which also provide employment to tribal communities], corrugated paper with coatings and sugarcane bagasse products will be also supplied.”

Swiggy is launching ‘Swiggy Packaging Assist’ Program — a marketplace for restaurant partners to access a variety of packing solutions that suit their menu needs at the right price points, said its spokesperson.

Small eateries

Roadside eateries and small restaurants (which operate out of a 300 sq ft space) are still evaluating on how they can replace plastic. Some of them even said that the ban would not last long and would die a natural death.

A restaurant owner at Triplicane said, “A few months back there was a huge noise about banning Coke and Pepsi and now that issue is dead and the products are back on shelves. How long will the government keep monitoring usage of plastics,” he asked. Tamil Nadu has lakhs of roadside eatery and small restaurants, he points out.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 4:26:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/hotels-embrace-plastic-ban-say-rates-might-go-up/article25875456.ece

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