Bon Appetit Management Company recently announced that it would stop serving plastic straws in the facilities it manages. Maisie Ganzler, chief strategy and brand officer, shares why the company made a pledge to go plastic straw-free at all of its 1,000 cafes and restaurants by September 2019 and how it’s handled challenges that have come with the decision.
Photos courtesy of Pixabay
Making the choice
Q: Why did you decide to eliminate straws from your restaurants and cafes?
A: We’ve been following the news about the overwhelming problem of single-use plastic and how more than 90 percent of plastic doesn’t get recycled, including straws. When our client The University of Portland decided to ban plastic straws from its campus in April, our CEO Fedele Bauccio challenged senior leadership to look into whether it was feasible for us to do so companywide. We decided we should take the leap and hope that others would follow.
Q: Have there been any challenges during this process? What are some of the ways you’ve helped combat them?
A: There is no single nationwide supplier of heavy-duty paper straws already in our distribution network that will work for all cafes. So, we’re putting together a portfolio of options, from paper to PLA (polylactic acid), pasta and hay. A tip for other operators: Make sure you lock in your options for [straw] alternatives as there’s all of a sudden a lot of demand out there!
Q: Have you received pushback from consumers? Are there any steps you are taking to help consumers deal with this change?
A: No, the students at our university accounts have been supportive. We have had a few concerned emails from clients wondering what we plan to do about smoothies and other specific beverages, and we did get one email from a woman who was not a current customer, but said she had a disability and needed a straw to drink. We will definitely offer non-plastic alternative straws by request to those who need them. But most people, when they think about it, realize they don’t.