The company has also announced that all of its UK attractions are now powered by renewable energy ©PA Images
The company has also announced that all of its UK attractions are now powered by renewable energy ©PA Images

Plastic straws to be phased out in Merlin theme parks

29 November 2018

Merlin Entertainments has announced it is phasing out plastic straws within all of its owned attractions by the end of the year.

The global company, which owns attractions such as Sea Life, Legoland and Madame Tussauds, was previously buying up to 4m plastic straws each year from a number of different regional suppliers around the world.

Deciding to phase out plastic straws is part of broader sustainability drive to ensure that sustainability is considered more routinely in decision-making John Butcher, the company’s group procurement director, told SM. As part of its green initiative, the company has also announced that all of its UK attractions are now powered by renewable energy.

Awareness of the environmental impact of plastic, especially single-use plastics, on the ocean is higher than ever with global brands such as Starbucks and McDonald’s pledging to phase out plastic straws over the next two years.

Through marine conservation activity at its Sea Life centres, Merlin has been working to educate guests on reducing plastic pollution and also has initiatives to remove single-use plastic water bottles from company offices.

One of the key challenges faced by the procurement team at Merlin Entertainments when trying to reduce the use of plastic within the company was cost.

Butcher said: “While price is a concern, it’s important to think about what can we do as a procurement function to mitigate any potential cost increase and making sure environmental reasons are part of the decision-making process, competitively sourcing and looking at some volume levers we can implement to meet the challenge and concerns head on.”

Chessington World of Adventures was one of the first Merlin attractions to remove plastic straws from its park and hotels, and all plastic straws and bags have now been removed from all attractions in Australia and New Zealand.

The procurement team has been working with its supply chains to reduce excess plastics, which Butcher said mainly comes through education and collaboration with its key strategic suppliers, as well as making the environment a consideration with any new suppliers.

The company has also been working with Ecotricity, who provide 100% renewable energy to its UK attractions, which Butcher believes is helping to challenge assumptions that renewable energy costs more.

“Going greener isn’t always going to be as expensive as you might think. It’s about challenging beliefs and expectations that are out there,” he said.

The companies are also working alongside each other to investigate building green energy generation and storage assets at a number of Merlin locations.

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