Covid advice for businesses post lockdown

Covid-19 does not know the difference between reusable and single use, but the environment does

As businesses re-open there are understandable concerns about the safety of staff and customers. With this in mind, we have produced this practical guide to inspire confidence and keep single use plastic to a minimum. There is a huge groundswell of opinion in favour of an economic recovery based on a more sustainable future.

There is anxiety and increased pressures on businesses to ensure they are not a source of infection. However, it continues to be important to make choices that also minimise environmental impact.

Current Government and international advice on reuse and refill

Customers may previously have used reusable cups or containers when shopping or buying drinks at cafes and other retailers. It is up to the individual business to decide whether they allow the use of reusable cups or containers during this period.

If reusable cups or containers are used, they should be washed thoroughly in hot, soapy water, or in a dishwasher, if suitable.

Government guidelines also state that it is not essential to use single use condiment sachets but all surfaces and objects such as counters, tables, payment terminals and condiment containers should be cleaned after each customer use.

Organisations such as the Food Standards Agency and the World Health Organisation do not discourage refill and reuse, but emphasise that handwashing, thoroughly cleaning surfaces and social distancing are the best way to stay safe.

How long does Coronavirus live on Surfaces? Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet found that Coronavirus lives longer on plastic and other smooth, hard surfaces such as stainless steel than on printing paper, tissue paper or cardboard.1 There is limited research on how long the virus lives on fabric. The Centers for Disease Control, in the US, advises that the main way the virus spreads is not through touching a surface or object contaminated with the virus and then touching your face but through person to person contaminated droplets.2

It will be important that customers see that cleaning is being done so that they can feel confident to return to a business.

If you are keen to avoid any contact at all with refillable items, it is worth having a look at the campaign video from City to Sea. They have a simple effective way of keeping staff safe by using a small tray that the customer places the refillable item on. The tray can then be carried to the refill point, filled, and returned without being touched by staff.3

If you decide to accept reusable containers, make sure they are clean; if they are not, you have every right to refuse them. We hope you will encourage customers to bring their own by perhaps offering a discount.

According to Greenpeace4 disposables are no safer than properly cleaned reusables. Single-use disposables can harbour viruses and bacteria. They are subject to whatever pathogens have settled on them throughout manufacture, transport, stock rooms and eventual use. There are said to be over 12,000 chemicals used in food packaging, many of which are hazardous to human health.

W e think that these are good reasons to reject single-use plastic.

Face Masks

The wearing of masks on public transport is required now and is mandatory in shops from July 24th The question is what type of mask to wear. There have been pictures of disposable masks littering the streets and washing up on beaches around the world, polluting the environment. Therefore, reusable masks are really a better option.

Reusable cloth masks are now easily available, if you unable to source locally or by mail then follow the Government’s link to make your own.5

The Future

More than 200 top UK firms and investors are calling on the government to deliver a Covid-19 recovery plan that prioritises the environment.

The Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, is holding a series of economic ‘recovery roundtables’, on which the British Chamber of Commerce is represented. He said, “This will undoubtedly lead to a cleaner, greener, more resilient economy which will create new jobs” 6

Please feel free to contact Dawlish Against Plastic if you have any questions about the topics mentioned or if you would like to become a Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Champion.

Visit our website, where this information and all the links can be accessed:

Or visit our Facebook page (DawlishAgainstPlastic), or email:

Compiled also with advice from Surfers Against Sewage and with reference to Plastic Free North Devon.

We are producing a separate leaflet for hairdressers/barbers.

Vanessa Ryley - 07791464995

Dave Hutton - 07890515794

On behalf of Dawlish Against Plastic





5 Government advice on making face masks