Until a couple of years ago, we’d all go to the bar on the weekend with our friends, grab a mojito or gin and tonic and stand around chatting and sipping from our drinks through straws. But when it became clear just how much damage plastic straws do to natural life, we quickly had to toss them in the recycling bin in favour of less harmful alternatives like paper straws. No one likes drinking their cocktail through a soggy straw, so to keep customers happy, bars had to quickly find a sustainable yet high-quality replacement.
APS Glass & Bar Supply B.V. based in Amsterdam, APS has been supplying the Dutch hospitality industry with quality products since 2004. There’s no shortage of wholesale companies supplying the Dutch hospitality industry, so APS sets itself apart through great service. They focus on helping their clients find the right products for their bars, from glassware, bar supplies and porcelain to tabletop decorations. Part of pleasing your customers is providing them with exactly what they want, so APS closely follows trends in the hospitality industry to ensure they’re meeting their customers’ wishes. And at the moment, it’s all about sustainability.
We spoke to Maartje, one of the company’s two founders, about sustainable trends in the hospitality industry, and the measures APS is adopting to keep their carbon footprint as low as possible.
You sell these products to bars, so I assume you follow the trends with regards to what sorts of products people want to buy. What I’m really interested to find out from you is whether the types of products people want change year on year?
We noticed about two years ago that the ‘no plastic straw’ movement was starting, and during this period we were developing our assortment. Today we focus on selling less plastic disposables, such as stirrers and plastic cocktail sticks and add products which are more sustainable. You can probably understand that 5 or 10 years ago, plastic disposables were common products. But we see this movement getting stronger and stronger. I immediately believed in this movement. When we noticed this trend, we thought “okay, we have to stop selling this”. We tried to focus on sustainable products.
As well as through the products you sell, do you also focus on sustainability within your company itself?
For over a decade we recycle our packaging material. It’s something that’s very logical for us. When we get pallets delivered, they come wrapped in plastic, so we always make sure to reuse the plastic to fill up parcels. When we deliver products we try to use as little plastic as possible to protect the product during the transport.
We’re also making a big effort to focus on our transport. Part of our deliveries we do with electric bikes. Plus, for 2020 our goal is to deliver emission free in the city. But we’re working on a new plan to decrease our carbon footprint. We’re in the middle of working on that, so it’s not 100% fixed yet, but it’s something that we’re really looking forward to. It would be a great contribution to Amsterdam and the environment.
You said you noticed a while ago that people were stopping buying plastic straws. How do you follow those trends? Do you have teams doing research?
Every day we try to stay in contact with our clients. Our customers tell us what they need and what they’re looking for, so we can see patterns and follow up on them. Besides this we work with partners who produce products as sustainable as possible. We are the liaison between the hospitality industry and our manufacturers.
Do you still get people coming in and asking for plastic straws?
No! Straw by Straw is a good product, and besides this we also sell APS paper straws, stainless steel, and glass…
What kind of trends do you see going forward in terms of sustainability?
Of course, plastic is a big issue and this is getting stronger and stronger. Besides this we see a lot of involvement of nature in products, especially in terms of materials, colours and patterns.
People are worried about the environment, they're starting to respect nature more and that’s the most important thing. These days I have the feeling that people are more aware of how to treat products, treat their product with more respect.