February 9, 2024
3 min read
by Author
Practical tips to reduce single-use straws and cutlery at your cafe.



Many businesses are giving away far more disposable straws and cutlery than they need to, costing money and creating waste. Here are some practical tips to assist your cafe in reducing their distribution.

Assess Customer Needs

Evaluate the types of items you serve to determine the necessity for straws and cutlery.

Some food and beverages do not need cutlery or straws, yet staff may be automatically giving these out with every item.

Decide what items actually need  you want to serve with straws, and let the customer decide if they want one.

For e.g., people often prefer a straw for milkshakes and juices, but water and soft drinks may not need one. Another example is cutlery (often full sets) being sent with home delivery items. These are often just unnecessary.

Offer your customers to opt-In

Instruct your staff to inquire whether customers need a straw or cutlery before automatically providing them. This can extend to online ordering by having the customer opt-in to receive cutlery.

Manage visibility

Limit the visibility of single-use items on counters to discourage unnecessary use. A simple 'out of sight, out of mind' approach can help curb their usage (many people just take these items without thinking).

Move them behind the counter and display signs at the counter encouraging customers to ask if they need one.

Staff empowerment

Train your staff on the importance of reduced packaging and reusable alternatives. Their support will resonate positively with your customers.

To break stuff automatic habits, move straws and cutlery around so they are not always in the same spot where staff always reach for them. This helps them to remember that they don’t need to give out a single-use item.

Provide reusables for dine-in

Reusable options elevate the dining experience and are sustainable and cost-effective.

Stainless steel is a popular choice, and for straws, you can also consider borosilicate glass (strong and see-through) or silicone.

Many cafes worry these will be stolen - this does sometimes happen, but the savings on single-use (even with the loss of a few) still come out on top for most cafes.

To clean reusable straws, simply soak them in a tray of soapy water or diluted vinegar solution, then run them through the dishwasher. If you're using them for juices and smoothies, you can clean them with a straw brush, or alternatively, don’t use them for those particular drinks.

Encourage dine-in

Assess how welcoming your dine-in environment is - could you create a more desirable atmosphere? Additional comforts like coffee table books, newspapers, plants, ambient lighting, music, cushions, blankets, free wifi etc. may all  encourage people to stay rather than takeaway.

A dine-in discount could also be offered.

A bonus is the opportunity to upsell “would you like another drink?”

Monitor and adjust

Regularly evaluate the impact of your efforts and make adjustments as needed.

Celebrate and communicate your efforts

Share your commitment to reducing single-use straws/cutlery on your menu or in-store signage.

Recognise and celebrate milestones in reducing single-use items.

Utilise social media and other marketing channels to inform customers about your  initiatives and showcase your cafe as a leader in sustainability, attracting like-minded customers.

Lastly.. consider not using these single-use items at all

This may not be viable for all cafes - but many have done this, with success. If you choose this, ensure you communicate to customers so they understand why.

By implementing some of these straightforward measures, you can actively contribute to a more sustainable future while fostering a positive reputation within your community.

If you’d like more detailed information and implementation guides for reusable options, see our guide library.

Please note: the content of this guide is the advice of Boomerang Alliance. It may not reflect the view of your state government and you are encouraged to seek your own independent advice. Boomerang Alliance is an impartial non-profit organisation, and we don't benefit commercially from any information we provide, or brands or products we identify.

Cutlery / Stirrers


Cutlery / Stirrers

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