Whether it’s taking action on carbon, net-zero or plastic reduction – increasing the use of reusable cups at events in your area will assist towards these sustainability targets and be an effective way to reduce waste and litter. Manchester City Councils’ recent sustainable events guide shows how they have saved 1.7 million bar cups from being used once and discarded each year.

As a council, you are uniquely placed to influence how events are run within your local area outlining what event providers must do when it comes to waste management, recycling and single-use plastic.



Make sure event organisers, partner organisations and community groups in your local area can access this free support.


Make sure that single-use cups are a thing of the past at your own events, buildings and facilities. This could be as simple as swapping out those disposable cups in your reception area, or it could be about proactively contacting your catering company to make sure they know single-use cups are no longer being used.

Use your influence to drive change
  • Making reuse a criteria for getting events licenced. When an event applies for a licence – share this guide with them to make sure they have the guidance and support they need.
  • Asking event producers to complete an environmental assessment. Give them examples of how to improve environmental standards at their event including switching to reusable models of serving food and beverages.
  • Provide training on reducing environmental impacts for communities – and volunteer-scale events
  • Buy or hire a supply of local cups to make it easy and affordable for smaller events to use Look for local existing facilities to wash the cups. A longer-term solution is working with Use Again to install a washing facility in your region.

Case Studies

Get some inspiration and insights from events and councils that are already taking action. 


Savings Calculator


Enter number of cups

Use the slider or type in a number (1-1,000).

Our handy calculator enables you to quantify the carbon and waste savings from switching from single-use plastic to hiring in reusable cups. Great if you need to build a business case.

Calculation caveat:  as with all carbon calculations some assumptions have been made and don’t account for every scenario that will arise.

The figures that this calculator use come from Hope Solutions fact sheets and are based on the assumption that the cups are hired in and will be used at multiple events afterwards. Therefore the sum doesn’t account for the initial manufacture of the reusable cups, just the disposable ones.

Cup posters

To support event organisers of all sizes, we have created a suite of posters that can be downloaded and used for your event, whether you are running a levy, deposit or ‘customer buys their cup’ scheme.

Communication is one of the key elements of a successful reusable cup campaign, especially at the bar.

Posters can’t replace bar staff telling people they have paid for a cup but will go some way to awareness.

So rather than making this another item on the event organisers to do list, we have created them for you. 

Examples of Councils taking action

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of key people, certain councils have blazed a trail. Their important work has shown that there are solutions to the plastic crisis and with a joined up approach we can align climate and waste management targets and take effective action on both. 


Brighton and Hove Council require organisers to complete a ‘Sustainable Event Commitment’. This is where people are provided a guide and asked to choose ‘ten or more actions and from any of the sections. The food and beverage category contains advice on reusables.


Manchester Councils’ specialist markets team own a supply of cups that they rent out for the Christmas market traders. And Manchester City Council is trialling a pilot with reusable cups for available for summer events too. They also have a sustainable events guide.


Durham County Council is cutting its consumption of single-use plastic, and helping partners and suppliers do the same. Key to this is the creation of the council’s own single use plastic pledge, which it follows and encourages others to sign up to.


Litterfree Dorset, who are funded by Dorset Council, have bought 500 cups for small events to borrow. They provide and event pack which includes a how-to guide and signage.


As part of Bristol’s year as European Green Capital the council commissioned three sets of sustainable events guides for large outdoor, small outdoor and indoor events, as well as training for local event organisers.


Bedford City Council are requiring and supporting their bar company to use reusable cups at their council run Bedford River Festival 2022.


Lambeth council  have sustainable events guidance on their website.


Cambridge Council have banned single-use plastics on their event sites.

Template motion to councils

Having collected examples of best practice from councils acting on the plastic issue, this template motion is offered as a starting point to help other councils make important changes. Please get in touch if you see scope to extend this motion and do let us know what progress you make.


• The significant environmental, social and economic issues that single-use plastics pose locally, nationally and globally.
• The environmental and social impact that plastic pollution causes
• That previous attempts to tackle single-use plastics in [PLACE NAME] are welcome but that more needs to be done.
• That tackling single-use plastics is an essential part of wider net zero strategies.

As such [NAME OF COUNCIL] resolves to:

• Adopt the City to Sea – ‘Solutions on Tap: A guide to reducing waste and introducing reusable cup schemes at events.’ – and prominently place the guide on the council’s website.
• Ban the use of single-use plastics on all council property and at all council run events and where possible will adopt reuse and refill models and avoid potentially damaging single-use alternatives such as bioplastics. The ban will phase out the use of single-use plastics by <<nominated date>> or, at the earliest possible opportunity that is legally and contractually possible. No procurement contract will be renewed that allows for the provision of single-use plastics with immediate affect
• Progress on this ban will be reported back to Full Council on a 6 monthly basis until all bans and new guidance are fully in place and operational.
• Will, where possible, introduce a ban on single-use plastics as part of the licensing
• Will work proactively with partner organisations to promote the ‘Solutions on Tap: A guide to reducing waste and introducing reusable cup schemes at events.’ guide and to encourage other local partner organisations to adopt similar standards for events outside of direct council control.
• Will work to provide information to event organisers on sourcing reusable alternatives to single-use plastics and encourage events within the community to adopt these strategies.



City to Sea works with 90+ Councils around the country to power the Refill campaign across the UK, leading local schemes and making a difference in their community. Together, they are playing a pivotal role in a growing global movement to reduce waste, and help people live with less plastic. The Solutions on Tap Guide will serve to further support their work helping them overcome the consistent problem experienced by events taking place across local authorities, by helping to finally stem the tide of single-use plastic and improve event experience for both organiser and visitor.

Find out more about other ways to reduce waste in your local area with City to Sea education and community engagement programmes and campaigns.

  1. Power the Refill Campaign in your community
  2. Rethink Periods Education Programme
  3. Plastic Free Periods Ambassador Training