Forget disposable – go reusable!
For many events, the single-use nature of food and beverage service ware can be not only a big waste-creator but a big cleaning headache.
The bottles, cans and cups that drinks are sold and consumed in may make up a huge proportion of event waste. Coming up with a way to serve drinks that will produce the least amount of waste, is the first place to start. If you control the sale of beverages, then you can control what they are served in.
I would like to see, in the very near future where reusable service ware systems for events are readily available in all regions of the world and where it is enthusiastically taken up.
There are some existing terrific models out there, and they are linked later on this page. If you know of any others share with other students in our Facebook group and get them listed on the Sustainable Event Alliance supplier database.
Reusable cup system
The obvious way to reduce waste volume from bars is to sell beverages from wet-pour systems into re-usable cups.
At outdoor festivals and entertainment or sports events things get logistically trickier but not impossible. The cups generally have a deposit on them, which entices attendees to bring them back for a refund, or keep them for a souvenir.
If mobile washing facilities are available, you have adequate wastewater disposal options, staff to service the set up, and willing caterers and/or bar operators, using washable cups is something that could put a massive dent in your overall waste volumes. Above is a photo from the brilliant Brazilian company Meu Copo Eco, and their onsite washing system.
This would be one of the best reusable cups systems I’ve seen in operation. Check them out.
Hard (reusable) cup systems are becoming much more prevalent and in fact the Dutch government are supporting an international role-out of a programme ‘Never give up on your Cup‘ and the ‘Plastic Promise‘ via their Green Deal. So look out for this in your region.
Some events such as Glastonbury Festival are investing in their own steel pint cups. Here they went away from plastic and sourced British steel, which is commendable. Brilliant innovators on Etsy have crafted cup carrying systems like the one above.
A great way to ensure you get your recyclables cups, bottles and cans back rather than them ending up on the floor or in the wrong bin, is to have an incentive to encourage drinkers to be bothered handing it in. You can do this by charging a deposit on bottles, cans and cups of drinks sold, the ‘incentive’ being to receive their deposit back. This works the best where you control all the beverages sold onsite.