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Sustainable alternatives in offices

There exist a range of alternatives for single-use (plastic) products used in offices not all as green and sustainable as they seem. We show you different alternatives for the most common single-use plastic items in tourism businesses including their impact on the environment.

Sustainability Ratings Charts

Below you’ll find an overview of potential alternatives that can be used to replace single-use plastic products.


The potential alternatives are listed on a scale of 0–10.

A solution rated 0 has the least negative impact, a solution rated 10 has a high negative impact and corresponding traffic light colours provide a more visual demonstration.


All suggested alternatives are compliant with the EU Plastics Directive.

Alternatives to plastic / aluminium coffee capsules

Around 56 billion coffee capsules are consumed globally every single year with just 30% of these being captured for recycling by the suppliers that make them.


There exist a wide range of solutions to provide coffee in a way that avoids single-serve products and reduces the negative impacts on the environment and climate.


The most sustainable alternative is providing ground coffee for guests in cafetières or filter coffee pots with the ground coffee coming from large (bulk buy size) bags.


A cafetières does require some important changes to processes and procedures so that cafetières and loose coffee are provided hygienically without impacting the guest experience.


See our Decision Tree for Coffee Capsules as well as our Standard Operating Procedure for coffee capsules for further information.

Single-use plastic/aluminium coffee capsules

Impact 10
Potential Alternatives Impact
Large (bulk buy size) bag of ground coffee made from paper/aluminium composite 2.07
Reusable stainless-steel capsule 3.01
Medium bag of ground coffee made from paper/aluminium composite 4.04
Large bag of ground coffee made from multi-layer plastic 4.06
Reusable silicone capsule 4.27
Individual coffee bags wrapped in paper 4.38
Coffee granules in an individual serving size paper sachet 5.85
Single-use capsules made with recycled plastic 6.48
Single-use capsules that are certified as home or industrially compostable 6.72

Single-use plastic cling film

Single-use plastic cling film is not needed in order to keep food fresh and hygienically clean, it only produces a lot of unnecessary plastic waste.


In order to provide fresh fruits or meals to your guests you have several options that do not include any single-use plastic packaging. Provide fruits such as bananas, apples or pears in its own skin and inform your guests that the fruits have been washed thoroughly.


Picnic can be either provided in bento baskets made from glass or Tupperware with lids. Both can be washed and thus reused again and again.

Cooked meals or fresh food can also be provided in pastry domes or with plate covers made from stainless steel.


See our Decision Tree for Single-Use plastic cling film to make a more informed decision.

Single-use plastic cling film

Impact 6.75
Potential Alternatives Impact
Fruit in its own skin that doesn’t require wrapping 0
Reusable trolly rack covers made from plastic 2.18
Bento baskets made from glass 2.2
Tupperware with lids made from HPDE 2.63
Pastry dome made from glass / mason jar with lid 2.93
Plate cover made from stainless steel / wire rack pastry cover 3.01
Reusable silicone lid for bain-marie’s 4.27
Aluminium foil 6.03
Greaseproof paper 6.79
Home compostable cling film 7.02

Alternatives to single-use plastic bin liners

Single-use plastic bin liners do not only have a negative impact on the environment they also produce unnecessary plastic waste.


The best option is to use no bin bags at all which is perfect for all dry waste such as paper or plastic waste.


Reusable bin liners that can be washed are also a more sustainable alternatives. They can be used for dry waste but also for organic waste as the liners can easily be washed and used again.


See our Decision Tree for Single-Use Plastic Bin Liners to make a more informed decision.

Single-use plastic bin liners

Impact 5.06
Potential Alternatives Impact
No bin bags at all 0
Reusable, washable bin liners 2.53
Single-use bin liners made from recycled plastic 4.86
Single-use bin liners made from bio-based material (e.g. starch) 5.26
Single-use bin liners made from paper 5.85

Single-use plastic water bottles

According to our research the best option to offer water to your guests is by using tap water (if safe to drink or filtered) or water stations with reusable glasses / bottles.


Make sure that the measure is well communicated to guests and staff and that everyone is provided with or has access to a reusable glass / bottle.


If providing tap water or installing water filter station is not possible in your region you can check whether one of your suppliers offers medium glass water bottles with a return system which has a better impact on the environment than disposable bottles.

Single-use plastic water bottles

Impact 10
Potential Alternatives Impact
Tap water 0
Dispenser with returnable big size water container 2.14
Reusable bottle (carafe) with filtered water on site 2.2
Medium glass bottles (local & returnable) 2.2
Medium plastic bottles (local & returnable) 2.64
Medium glass bottles (local & disposable) 4.4
Medium plastic bottles (local & disposable) 4.86
Carton box of water 7.38

Alternatives to single-use masks

During the COVID 19 pandemic the production and use of single-use masks as Private Personal Equipment (PPE) have increased significantly with deadly effects on the environment.


Did you know that single-use masks do not prevent infection transmission better than properly worn reusable masks?


Prefer reusable face masks branded with the company logo for your staff and make sure there is a process in place for the handling and laundering of the masks.

Single-use masks

Impact 10
Potential Alternatives Impact
Reusable masks made of coffee yarn 2.84
Reusable masks made of cotton 3.51
Reusable transparent plastic face shield 4.27
Single-use hemp masks lined with corn-starch 7.02
Single-use hemp masks made from bio-based materials 7.02