Cut the Cups

Making a splash with our new sustainable events guide

Solutions on Tap

We’re delighted to be launching our new guide “Solutions on Tap – a Guide to Reducing Waste & Introducing Reusable Cup Schemes at Events.”

Designed for small and medium-sized events, the guide offers a practical way forward to help event organisers avoid single-use plastics. Full of information and clear advice, it will enable event producers to introduce measures like deposit return schemes for reusable cups, as well as busting myths around bioplastics and highlighting some of the existing best practice already happening across the industry

Single-Use Plastic Dancefloors

Last summer, two veteran City to Sea staffers were at an outdoor summer event they could not fully enjoy. Standing at the back of a large crowd, they surveyed the scene with dismay… every reveller in sight was clutching a single-use plastic cup. Even worse still, the happy crowd was dancing on a sea of plastic that was being trampled into ever smaller shards. Outdoor summer events are supposed to be peak fun – but this just looked like peak plastic pollution!

This experience is, of course, not unusual. In these strange times of turbo-charged fossil fuel use, it has become normal for us in the UK to use single-use plastic throughout any given day. With the dials of the economy set as they are, serving food and beverages in disposable containers designed to be thrown away after one use, has become the norm.

That summer event  triggered a chain reaction that has resulted in the launch of this new guide! We know that fun events do not have to mean loads of single-use plastic waste. In fact, we know that lots of events have successfully pioneered reusable cup systems, proving it can be done! So, we set out to find these success stories and share them far wide to help make reuse, not single-use, the norm once more.

Beware of false solutions!

Like most people, at City to Sea we’re all delighted to be able to get out and enjoy more events again this summer. But the eagerly-awaited return to gigs, festivals and other events also means a return to all the mountains of single-use plastic waste generated by them.

Currently, over 100 million single-use plastic cups are used every year at UK festivals and live events, and most of these are incinerated or sent to landfill. The industry’s 100 million plastic cups are responsible for 100,000 tonnes of C02e emissions and 30,000 tonnes waste that could be avoided.

Many events have tried to address this major waste stream by switching to paper cups, bioplastics or “compostable” serveware. Unfortunately, this doesn’t actually fix the main issue – despite what it might say on the cups themselves! These other types of cups all still require energy and resources to make and bring to market which all has an environmental impact. They also create waste streams that need processing.

As explored in our dedicated compostable plastic hub, bioplastics in particular are a false solution. They are still single-use and there simply are not the specialist composting plants to send the materials to, so they just go in general waste and end up being burned as waste-to-energy or sent to landfill – the same as your regular single-use plastic cup!

In nearly every case, switching to reusable cups is the best way to reduce the environmental impact of events arising from single-use plastic waste streams.

Plastic-Free Parties

When everyone around us is using single-use plastic, it can be challenging to buck the trend. No one wants to be a party pooper, making people feel guilty when they should be having a great time – we get that! So we hope that providing guidance, examples and inspiration will lead to more and more events switching to the reuse model. Which will mean less single-use plastic waste – and less guilt (or indeed, rage) at parties, leaving us free to enjoy events without the environmental worries.  The modus operandi of City to Sea is to prevent single-use plastic at source and, through guidance like this, we are able to demonstrate that another way is both possible and preferable. Now that’s something to celebrate!

So, we’re now calling on Refill Schemes, our partners, friends and supporters to get involved and help to spread the word – plastic free parties ARE possible! Together, we can work to get the guide to all those event organisers still using single-use disposable cups.

Help us Cut the Cups!

Ever fancied yourself as a private detective? Or going undercover on an investigation? Well, we have just the job for you! We’re asking you to go undercover as a “secret shopper” or “vigilante consumer.” Which basically means, being our eyes on the ground at events. If you come across events that are pumping single-use plastic out into the world, why not get in touch with them with this guide and suggest – nicely – that they consider doing their bit for the planet and switching to a reusable cup system instead.

It can also be powerful to call these businesses out on social media – please tag us and use the hashtag  #CutTheCups.

We believe this guide has the potential to be a powerful catalyst to drive change and help the event industry reduce its plastic waste output – but we need your help!

Here’s to a summer of fantastic outdoor events, where we can gaze upon happy crowds of revellers all clutching reusable cups – with no single-use plastic in sight!

Let’s raise a reusable cup and say cheers to that!