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As the impact of plastic pollution becomes increasingly evident, waste and what venues are doing to prevent it, is rising on the agenda for event planners.

Events are impermanent in their very nature. This has always posed a challenge to event professionals who are conscious of the effect that waste has on carbon emissions. As part of our Make Plastic History campaign, in 2019 we committed to identifying and removing all single-use plastic from our venue and across our supply chain. Three years on, we take a look at some of the sustainable alternatives we discovered along the way.

We have identified key areas for event planners and venues to target to go plastic free this July and beyond.

1. Cutlery

The events industry has had a huge historical impact on climate change, in part by accelerating the production and disposal of single-use plastic utensils. Banning disposable cutlery was our very first step towards becoming a plastic free venue. When you attend catered events at 15Hatfields, you will not find a plastic fork in sight. All our cutlery is reusable and made in Sheffield from at least 90% recycled steel.

2. Food packaging

Plastics have become ubiquitous in packaging but there are ways to avoid single-use plastic, particularly in the case of individually wrapped snacks. We recommend working with suppliers that produce and deliver loose items like cookies. The quickest way to encourage suppliers to provide packaging-free alternatives is to purchase in-house refillable containers.

At 15Hatfields we have a selection of refillable jars and bottles made from recycled glass. Instead of serving granola in plastic pots, our local event catering specialist Eden Caterers refills our reusable glass jars. We also use recycled glassware to serve fair trade biscuits that guests can enjoy without worrying about how to dispose of packets. We are pleased to see the emergence of refill culture in wider society with a growing number of food retail outlets encouraging customers to adopt a more sustainable approach to their shopping.

3. Tea bags

Auditing is a significant part of the journey to becoming plastic free. It’s important to remember that surprises and challenges are an inevitable part of this process. Plastic doesn’t always appear on the surface and sometimes it’s only with research that we can discover the full extent of a problem. Take tea bags for instance, we see the paper bag but not the sealing agent that holds it together.

Teapigs temples have created tea bags made from corn starch and sealed together with heat rather than polypropylene. In buffet and breakout areas at 15Hatfields, you will find Teapigs’ plastic free tea bags served in recycled glass tea caddies.

4. Cleaning products

The cleaning industry has been a major contributor to ocean pollution over the years. Cleaning products are often packaged in plastic and common ingredients include chemicals that are harmful to aquatic life. ‘Environmentally friendly’ and ‘detergent’ are not words traditionally associated with each other, but sustainable cleaning products do exist! Delphis Eco has created the first range of cleaning products in the UK that use entirely recycled packaging.

The detergent we receive from Delphis Eco is packaged in recycled plastic bottles made from UK plastic milk bottles. This plant-based detergent is free-from a range of compounds, including phosphates, that have contributed to the degradation of marine ecosystems.

5. Furniture

While we encourage venues to prioritise the replacement of single-use plastics with sustainable alternatives, there are creative ways to repurpose plastics that have been discarded. For venues looking to refurnish, we recommend contributing to the circular economy and making the most of existing materials. After all, the durability of plastics is what makes them both useful to us and harmful to the environment.

The bar at 15Hatfields is made from recycled fabric conditioner bottles. We sourced this material from Smile Plastics, a UK based micro-factory that transforms plastic waste into quality, decorative materials.

Read more about our journey to eliminating single-use plastic and discover additional sustainable substitutes here.

15Hatfields is the official venue of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), which as an organisation, campaigns to reduce plastic waste. As Scotland introduces a ban on many single-use plastics and the Welsh Government considers banning single-use carrier bags and plastic wet wipes, CIEH continues to campaign around the waste reduction plans set out in the UK Government’s Environment Act.