Research has revealed that just 29 per cent of hospitality and leisure businesses have replaced some or all of their single-use plastics.

A YouGov survey of more than 1,000 senior decision makers in SME businesses across a range of industries was commissioned by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy and BRITA UK.

It showed that there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to businesses replacing single-use plastics with more environmentally friendly alternatives, such as reusable coffee cups.

On top of this, only 8 per cent of SME businesses in the hospitality sector say they have used incentives such as purchase discounts to encourage customers to change their behaviour around single-use plastics.

Only half of senior decision makers (52 per cent) say their hospitality business is doing all it can to reduce its single-use plastic waste.

The figures highlight low levels of action, with only 17 per cent saying their organisation has taken steps to replace any single-use plastic in their supply chains in the past 12 months.

Only 34 per cent believe that their business is responsible for encouraging its customers to reduce consumption of single-use plastics, while a quarter (26 per cent) think their business has a duty to be a leader in their sector on this issue.

The research suggests that one of the key obstacles to businesses taking action is an unwillingness to take a leadership role and be a first mover in a sector, suggesting there is a driving role for trade bodies. 

Sarah Taylor, managing director of BRITA UK, said: "It's been exciting to see so many household name businesses take big steps to reduce their single-use plastic footprint, from providing staff with reusable alternatives, such as reusable water bottles and coffee cups, to trialling refill schemes for customers in stores.

"As a business this is something BRITA has been proud to be a part of. But it's clear that smaller organisations have not been as confident at making changes, despite what their customers and staff are saying."

Allison Ogden-Newton, Keep Britain Tidy chief executive, said: "This research makes for shocking reading but it is not simply about knocking businesses for inaction – it is about understanding the barriers they face and looking to work with them to offer the expertise, support and guidance that will help them transform for good.

"The public are willing to get out there and do something to clean up the plastic that they see around them – more than half a million volunteers gave their time during the Great British Spring Clean to do just that – and businesses must support the public by playing their part."

These figures have been published ahead of a wider study by Keep Britain Tidy's Centre for Social Innovation and BRITA UK, The Role of Businesses in Reducing Single-Use Plastics.