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Whitbread pulls crackers as part of plastics pledge

17 Dec 2019 Brand, Sustainability

Af 062 Plastics Premier Inn Whi

Business is one of the UK’s biggest providers’ of Christmas dinners

Firm plans to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic by 2025

Hospitality business Whitbread is pulling crackers as part of an industry-leading initiative to eliminate the use of unnecessary* single-use plastics by 2025.

The Premier Inn owner, which also operates restaurants UK-wide including Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Bar + Block, is believed to be one of the biggest providers of festive meals in the UK – it is gearing up to serve over a hundred thousand guests on Christmas Day alone. 

In a move which will cut down on over half a million pieces of single-use plastic each year, it reveals it is switching crackers – which previously contained plastic toys – for versions which contain wooden toys instead.

Pulling crackers is just one element of its wide-ranging plastics pledge.

To achieve its ambitious 2025 target Whitbread, which operates hundreds of restaurants in addition to the UK’s biggest hotel company, is carrying out a root and branch review of plastic and packaging across its supply chain.  To achieve its commitment, believed to be the most far-reaching in the hotel industry to date, it will work closely with its suppliers to forensically map out plastic usage and find alternatives to unnecessary single-use items.

Whitbread has a well-established track-record of minimising the use of single-use plastics – last year it became one of the first to ditch the use of plastic straws and stirrers while Premier Inn – unlike many hotel competitors – has never used miniature shower products.

Once realised, the latest move will mean the removal of hundreds of millions of pieces of unnecessary single-use plastic, including instantly recognisable consumer-facing products, such as sauce sachets but crucially, also behind-the-scenes plastics such as food and textile packaging. 

Whitbread will eliminate unnecessary single use plastics, *by which it means eliminating all plastic which is used instantaneously and is unnecessary for food safety purposes; or its removal will not lead to unintended environmental consequences by its removal, such as increased waste or carbon emissions.

Plastics to be eliminated include items such as packaging, sauce sachets and nappy bags. In future, all such unnecessary products will be eliminated. Those which are still deemed necessary for the reasons above, such as in-room single portions of milk, will be reviewed in order to be reduced, replaced with recyclable alternatives or made from recycled plastic where possible.

Premier Inn Managing Director Simon Ewins is clear on the scale of the challenge ahead but believes it to be necessary as for the good of the business, its guests and the environment.

He said: “Whitbread has a long history of minimising the unnecessary use of single-use plastics and this year we’re pulling crackers – just not in the traditional sense. Our Christmas cracker pledge alone will eliminate half a million pieces of single-use plastics a year.

He added: “Premier Inn has never used miniature bath and shower products and we were one of the first businesses to eliminate plastic straws and stirrers, so we’ve already made huge steps, particularly in terms of consumer-facing plastics – this is just the start.

“In many ways what we’re looking at now with our 2025 commitment is the less visible, less sexy stuff – the hard yards that collectively can make a huge difference. It’s about forensically examining our supply chain and eliminating the use of unnecessary single-use plastics wherever we can – from the products consumers will notice, to those behind-the-scenes that they won’t, right down to wrappers on textiles. As with any meaningful commitment to change – it won’t happen overnight but we’re unwavering in our belief that eliminating unnecessary single-use plastics is absolutely the right thing to do for our business, our guests and the environment”.

Whitbread restaurants’ at Christmas at-a-glance

  • Almost half a million Yorkshire puddings served
  • An estimated 25 tonnes of sprouts cooked
  • 160 tonnes of roast potatoes eaten
  • 130,000 Christmas puddings enjoyed

Whitbread’s industry-leading plastic ambition is part of its’ Force For Good Sustainability programme. Achievements under Force For Good include, over £15m raised for Great Ormond Street Hospital since 2012; the announcement of an industry-leading science-based carbon target of 50% reduction in carbon emissions intensity by 2025; plus a training and development scheme which has seen the completion of over 3,000 apprenticeships.

*Whitbread will eliminate unnecessary single use plastics, *by which it means eliminating all plastic which is used instantaneously and is unnecessary for food safety purposes; or its removal will not lead to unintended environmental consequences by its removal, such as increased waste or carbon emissions.

About Whitbread

Whitbread PLC is the owner of the UK’s favourite hotel chain, Premier Inn with over 800 hotels comprising almost 80,000 rooms and restaurant brands including Beefeater, Thyme and Bar + Block.

Outside of the UK, Whitbread is investing in more Premier Inn hotels in Germany, Ireland and the Middle East. Whitbread has particularly exciting expansion plans in the German market, it opened its first hotel in Frankfurt in 2016 and now has more than 35 further Premier Inn hotels in its secured pipeline in Germany. Whitbread has already committed more than £700 million of investment capital in Germany.

Whitbread is committed to being a force for good in the communities in which it operates. It’s sustainability programme, ‘Force for Good’ is focused on enabling people to live and work well and is built around three pillars of Opportunity, Community and Responsibility.

In the year ending February 2019, Whitbread PLC generated revenue of £2.0 billion and Underlying Profit before tax of £438 million.

Whitbread PLC is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100.

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