#StopSucking. No More Plastic Straws Say Dubai’s Freedom Pizza

4 mins
freedom pizza

Cutting out plastic straws and offering only biodegradable cutlery are some of the measures being rolled out by Dubai-based restaurant Freedom Pizza to reduce the amount of single use plastic going to landfill

Freedom Pizza, a popular take away service in the UAE, has announced plans to stop providing customers with plastic straws as part of a long term sustainability campaign.

Under the global environmental initiative Strawless Ocean whose hashtag #StopSucking went viral last year, the company will no longer include straws with their deliveries and will charge a nominal fee for customers who request biodegradable cutlery.

‘When you consider that in 2017 Freedom Pizza issued more than 500,000 [plastic] cutlery packs and straws to customers it was clear we needed to make a change,’ says founder and CEO Ian Ohan. ‘We realised how wasteful and damaging this was to the environment and immediately decided that action must be taken.

‘It’s predicted that by 2050, if we do not make a change, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish. As a company Freedom Pizza has an obligation and the opportunity to make a small change to create a large and sustainable impact – a sea change.’

‘It’s predicted that by 2050, if we do not make a change, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish. As a company Freedom Pizza has an obligation and the opportunity to make a small change to create a large and sustainable impact – a sea change.’

Freedom Pizza – already known for their use of locally-farmed ingredients and plenty of vegan and vegetarian options –  decided to take a stand against the global plastic pollution crisis by embracing the Strawless Ocean campaign that has proved successful across the US.

Initiated by actor Adrian Grenier – best known for playing Vincent Chase in the TV series Entourage – and his Lonely Whale Foundation, Strawless Ocean aims to galvanise people and places to take the problem of ocean pollution into their own hands.

Not just a local problem  

While there are currently no statistics for plastic straw use in the UAE, it’s estimated Americans use a staggering 500 million of them every single day.

Plastic straws – made from fossil fuels –  don’t biodegrade. Instead they slowly break down into smaller pieces with disastrous repercussions for marine life. It’s estimated that more than 700 marine species face extinction because of plastic in the form of ingestion, entanglement, and pollution.

While some straws can be recycled most are not with over 90 per cent ending up in landfill or our oceans – alongside another 8.8 millions tons of plastic annually – the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck filled with waste into the water every minute.

Freedom Pizza is now part of the official Strawless Ocean Institution which has been set up to combat the dumping of non-degradable waste in the world’s oceans.

‘This is the beginning of our journey,’ explains Ohan. ‘We have always been thoughtful about our impact [on the environement] but this is really the first sea-change in the way we behave outwardly to our customers.’

Freedom Pizza hope to initiate a similar #StopSucking movement to that which caught on in the US last year.

The Strawless Ocean campaign was taken up by the city of Seattle and 2.3 million plastic straws were taken out of circulation over a three month period. Businesses and restaurants switched instead to eco-friendly paper straws or no straws at all. This year Seattle intends to officially ban straws and plastic utensils.

In the UK, food and beverage chain Wetherspoons announced that it would replace plastic straws with paper alternatives across 900 outlets from January 2018. Many smaller outlets followed suit.

Freedom Pizza are hoping to achieve a similar domino effect across the UAE.

‘We are taking it one step further and challenging other companies in our space to do the same,’ Ohan explains. ‘Awareness is the foundation – real action is the goal.

‘The opportunity to be a thoughtful and caring company is important to us. We see this first initiative as the beginning of our journey. We are now looking at other ways to be a more harmonious member of the community…a better company.’

Freedom Pizza is also investigating ways of getting food delivered to UAE residents in a more environmentally friendly manner.

‘We have already initiated studies on other ways to reduce packaging waste,’ says Ohan. ‘We are now even testing electric vehicles, which we believe are the future of delivery for Freedom Pizza.

‘The exciting thing is that small changes can have a big impact,’ he says. ‘And if we can convince others to follow, then we can inspire a movement and be part of a quantum change.’

To learn more visit the Freedom Pizza homepage here

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