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Bengaluru eateries to offer paper napkins only on demand


In an effort to tackle the mounting solid waste crisis in Bengaluru, the city’s hotel industry has taken a significant step towards sustainability. The Bruhat Bengaluru Hotels Association (BBHA), comprising approximately 40,000 member-establishments, has called upon its affiliates, including hotels, darshinis, caterers, and flight catering services, to minimize the use of paper napkins and offer them to customers only upon request.

Currently, an astonishing 10 tonnes of paper napkins are consumed daily by BBHA’s member establishments, a figure that underscores the urgency of the issue. The association’s decision to shift from the conventional practice of providing paper napkins on every table to an on-demand system is primarily motivated by the wasteful use of these napkins by the public.

Moreover, this initiative aligns with broader efforts within the hospitality sector to curtail waste production and counteract the impacts of rising input costs and declining foot traffic. In a recent formal meeting, BBHA sought to sensitise its members about the necessity of reducing excessive use of paper napkins, as well as curbing electricity and water consumption.

PC Rao, president of BBHA, acknowledged the need for such measures, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rao stated, “Already, we are generating a significant amount of food waste. In addition to this, we are ending up generating tonnes of paper waste, which largely comprises paper napkins. If you look at our customers’ paper napkin consumption, it’s erratic and very difficult to comprehend. Due to free availability, they tend to grab them and use them recklessly, resulting in a huge mound of garbage.”
Another restaurant owner, who manages a chain of restaurants, added, “Paper napkins are used for the most absurd reasons. Be it to keep mobile phones on the table or personal belongings, people mindlessly use them. Had it been only for wiping hands, then it would have been acceptable. But if four people are at a table, they end up exhausting an entire pack of paper napkins by the time they finish a meal. We just wanted to regulate its use.” As a preliminary step, all BBHA members have been instructed to remove paper napkins from the tables and provide them to customers only when requested. Rao pointed out that the hospitality industry in Bengaluru consumes close to 10 tonnes of paper napkins daily. “While a few purchase it in bulk for a week, others buy it twice or thrice a week. Another problem with paper napkins is storage. The paper waste generated is so huge that in half a day our storage area is filled with bags full of them. Just because we place them visibly on the table, customers grab and use them. What if we do not keep them? They will use their handkerchiefs, which are not only sustainable but can also help cut down on waste generation,” he explained. The BBHA has taken proactive steps to raise awareness about this initiative. They have already held discussions with the food and civil supplies minister, KH Muniyappa, and other state government officials regarding the reduction of food waste and other wastages such as paper napkins, water, and electricity. As part of the collaborative effort, the state government has agreed to produce an awareness film that can be shown at all hotels and hospitality establishments. Additionally, posters will be displayed on tables and in washrooms in hotels to further promote this eco-conscious shift in the industry.


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