How Visakhapatnam’s hotels and restaurants are reducing their plastic usage

Zero waste, environmentally friendly, disposable, cardboard, paper tableware. View from the top.  

Around two months ago, Plot 17 Café replaced plastic straws with metal ones and introduced refillable glass bottles for water. “On an average, we sell around 50 beverages a day, which means that many straws. And in a cafe known for mocktails and shakes, the figure is almost double. Imagine the mess it will cause environmentally,” says Sumanth Behara, owner of the café.

plated, package, coffee cup isolated on white background

plated, package, coffee cup isolated on white background  

This is perhaps one of the signs of a silent movement happening across the city to invest in more sustainable and greener practices.

Ask Sumanth about the cleaning of metal straws and he explains that the café follows a systematic cleaning process in which they are washed with hot water and vinegar. “Also, stainless steel is a durable material that resists oxidation and corrosion. And unlike paper straws, it doesn’t leave a residue in the bottles,” he adds. Sumanth is now focusing on eco-friendly measures for take-away parcels. “We are talking to a few vendors who supply areca or bamboo cutlery in the city. The prices are a bit high, as demand is yet to pick up,” he says.

Plot 17 is not the only one to move towards environmentally friendly practices. Bean Board Café has also replaced plastic straws with paper and is using cloth bags. “In the next two months, we will change plastic frappé glasses to glass,” says Isaac Jeremiah Yedla of Bean Board, adding that they have also stopped using plastic lids for takeaways. In a similar initiative,Red Box, a Chinese takeaway and delivery kiosk, uses biodegradable boxes and areca cutlery for all its orders.

All that’s eco-friendly

Whether it is decor or service, Athidhi Devo Bhava, a restaurant in Lawsons Bay Colony, is totally eco-friendly. Food is served on banana leaves, water in copper glasses and clay pots are used to cook. Not just this, it has a rainwater harvesting pit and also reuses water from the air-conditioning units to clean the floors. “We ensured that we remained eco-friendly even when constructing the restaurant. The hut was laid without chopping trees,”says Vakada Raja Sekhar Reddy, the owner.

Green practices that can be implemented in kitchen
  • Use reusable grocery bags like cloth ones
  • Opt for palm leaf or bamboo plates instead of styrofoam ones
  • Compost kitchen waste

It’s not just cafes and restaurants that are going green; major hotel chains are also working to reduce the use of plastic.

Biodegradable bamboo straws with wooden glass isolated on white background, save clipping path. Eco concept. Packaging straws made of bamboo.

Biodegradable bamboo straws with wooden glass isolated on white background, save clipping path. Eco concept. Packaging straws made of bamboo.  

The Accor group is in the process of switching to glass water bottles both in the rooms and for events held across 50 hotels in India. “We have water purifiers that are serviced regularly and the bottles are cleaned thoroughly. During banquets, we give our guests the option of RO water stations instead of PET water bottles. The sustainability team has so far successfully replaced plastic straws with papers and eliminated stirrers from all our hotels, including the two Novotel properties in Visakhapatnam and Bhimli,” says Maverik Mukerji, General Manager Delegate, Bengaluru and Mysuru Hotels.

Environment - friendly initiatives in hotels and restaurants
  • Urging guests to opt for RO water stations over plastic bottles
  • Replacing plastic straws with metal and paper ones
  • Using reusable bamboo cutlery
  • Using bamboo or metal stirrers instead of plastic

Novotel Varun Beach has also replaced the plastic-laminated menu tags with white board tags and grow their own herbs in an organic way. Every room has a sign — “Your towel can save a tree” — which is “part of our initiative called ‘Plant for the Planet’. It aims to persuade guests staying more than one night to reuse their bath towels. The savings from the laundry are then donated towards reforestation projects,” says Mukerji.

The Taj Group recently held a ‘plastic elimination challenge’ where hotels in the group vied with each other to find innovative ways to replace plastic use. This helped replace plastic-wrapped dry amenities in rooms, such as toiletries.

Alarming facts

India produces about 26,000 tonnes per day of plastic waste, according to a report by Central Pollution Control Board. Out of this, just about 15,000 tonnes per day is collected. The rest end up polluting the rivers and oceans and chocking drains. A study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry estimates that the plastic processing industry will grow to 22 million tonnes a year by 2020 from 13.4 million tonnes in 2015. Alarmingly, nearly half of this is single-use plastic.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 9:16:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/how-visakhapatnams-hotels-and-restaurants-are-reducing-their-plastic-usage/article29655267.ece

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