Condiments and sauces have become a regular staple on the table at our favourite restaurants. Dipping sauce provides customers with a risk-free way of trying new flavours and combinations. They allow them to customise their meal and add zest to items that could do with a little more life. But is the way we are serving the best for the environment, can we be doing more to encourage plastic free eating?

Consumers expect choice and the ability to customise their order with their own choice of sauce, which has lead to many a restaurant providing a great choice of condiments. But, with many restaurants, cafes and bars taking a greener approach to dining, is it time to say goodbye to single use sachets?

There has quite rightly been a lot of talk about the impacts of single-use plastics on the environment for a couple of years now. You may not instantly recognise a humble sauce sachet as an item that is harming the planet, but they are actually some of the worst offenders.

There is an estimated 50 million metric tons of micro-plastic currently circulating our oceans*. Single-use plastics are one of the highest contribution factors. The problem being, they are often non-recyclable and end up in landfills, never fully breaking down, and making their way into the ocean and water supplies.

A single-use plastic item is exactly as described. An item made of plastic that is thrown away or recycled where possible after one use (think straws, plastic water bottles, coffee cups, stirrers & pods etc). Little packets and sachets of sauces that we often find in our favourite eateries fall into this category. Yes, they are cheap to purchase in bulk, but there are also some easy, cost-effective, environmentally friendly alternatives to those pesky little packets.

If you run a more casual establishment, you may feel comfortable leaving condiment and sauce bottles on the table for customers to help themselves too. Casual dining experiences are doing really well in this climate and allowing consumers an easily available choice to customise their meals without having to ask a member of staff is a real bonus. There is, of course, an issue of plastic sauce bottles when you choose this method, but you can make choices about packaging, most sauces offer a glass alternative, and you can choose brand who use packaging made of recycled materials.

But, there are often eating environments where leaving bottles on the table just doesn’t work. In these situations is often just better to ask the customer at the table if they would like any sauces and returning with them presented beautifully in dishes.

The presence of sustainable restaurants is increasing, and better-educated consumers are making choices about where to enjoy a meal out with the least impact on the environment. There are easy alternatives to wasteful sauce sachets, which won’t cost your bottom line but may help the environment. Plastic-free eating here we come!