By Andy MacInnes, Commercial Director, B-Loony Ltd

How is the ban on single-use plastics affecting your business? With the European Directive on single use plastics now officially published, member states have up to two years to implement the changes outlined. Despite plans to leave the EU, the UK has pledged to honour the single-use plastics directive and has already introduced a ban on certain single-use plastic items which include plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds in England from 2020 in a bid to limit the amount of plastic pollution.

The promotions industry is a sector that is plastics-heavy, and this is something we as an industry need to tackle together. Single-use plastics are only part of the problem – we must all think more creatively about what we can do to tackle the plastics issue in the long term as more and more businesses turn away from plastic-use and encourage sustainability. We still receive briefs for plastic giveaways, but we are increasingly trying to offer sustainable alternatives. Are there items that you could offer in wood, cotton or other biodegradable materials that would work just as well and not be cost prohibitive to offer?

This conundrum is one that we have prioritised as a business. As the UK’s largest supplier of printed balloons for promotional use, we have been readying ourselves for a ban on single-use plastics over the last few years. Although balloons themselves are made of natural rubber, are not plastic and will biodegrade, they are often supplied with plastic sticks when used for promotional purposes and have been caught up in the Directive. It is these plastic sticks that are the issue and we have worked hard to find a sustainable replacement for them. We are the first company in the world to have now developed a sturdy cardboard balloon grip that is recyclable and does away with the need for single use plastic sticks – a real breakthrough and it means that we can now offer a totally sustainable balloon and holder that is eco-friendly. The natural rubber balloon biodegrades and the new cardboard BalloonGrip is entirely recyclable. In order to ensure that we encourage clients to take the sustainable option, the cardboard balloon grips are no more expensive than plastic sticks so there is really no reason not to choose the more eco-friendly option. We are of course finding that our clients are keen to be more sustainable so the new BalloonGrip is proving incredibly popular.

With more and more large brands and event companies insisting on only working with suppliers and contractors that can demonstrate sustainability, this is an issue that is fast becoming a priority for any promotions and events business that is ambitious to grow. Some of our customers are large global brands including McDonalds, the Hollywood Bowl, MacMillan Cancer Support and Costa Coffee. These brands insist on good practice within their supply chain and so it is vital that we can demonstrate that our products are sustainable and recyclable.

In today’s more eco-conscious business world, we must all be aware of the responsibility that our decisions now will mean for future generations. There is always an alternative, it just takes a bit of creativity and time to find it. Let’s see if we can start a change in the promotions industry and encourage companies to think more sustainably and decrease their reliance on plastic.

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Molly joined the editorial team in March 2019. She has several years’ experience working in broadcast and journalism, as well as marketing and PR. Past experience includes working for the BBC and independent publishing houses. If you have a story you think Molly might be interested in, please email: molly@eventindustrynews.com