Arsenal saves half a million single-use plastic cups from landfill

Friends of the Earth has called on sporting venues across the UK to promote reusable cup use, after Arsenal FC revealed that a scheme introduced at the Emirates Stadium has prevented more than half a million single-use plastic cups from being discarded.

Arsenal Football Club's 60,000-seater stadium in North London became the first Premier League stadium to source 100% of its electricity needs from renewables in 2017

Arsenal Football Club's 60,000-seater stadium in North London became the first Premier League stadium to source 100% of its electricity needs from renewables in 2017

Arsenal introduced a reusable cup scheme in partnership with the local Camden Town Brewery at the beginning of the 2019/2020 football season following a successful trial period the year prior. The initiative has seen Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium offer beer in reusable cups, as opposed to single-use, with numerous drop-off and collection points signposted within the stadium where fans can place the reusable alternatives.

Up to 20,000 cups are now collected at the Emirates each matchday to ensure each cup reaches its maximum life of 200 uses.

Arsenal this week revealed that the scheme has helped prevent more than half a million single-use plastic cups from being discarded. In response, green campaign group Friends of the Earth is calling on stadiums and sports venues in the UK to adopt similar reusable cup schemes.

The group estimates that more than six million single-use plastic cups were thrown away in the previous Premier League season. Single-use plastics are often landfilled, or seep into the natural environment, notably oceans and waterways. By 2050, there could be more plastics than fish (by weight) in the oceans, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “We’ve been calling on stadiums across the country to take action on plastic waste, so it’s fantastic to see that Arsenal’s reusable cup scheme has already prevented hundreds of thousands of disposable plastic cups being landfilled or incinerated.

“If more football clubs, sports grounds and venues took action on plastic it would have a significant impact on the tide of plastic pollution swamping our planet. It’s great to see Arsenal showing leadership on this crucial issue: Plastic pollution blights our planet and threatens our wildlife. It’s time to give single-use plastic the boot.”

Half a million plastic cups saved! from Friends of the Earth on Vimeo.

A YouGov poll of UK football fans commissioned by the group found that 84% wanted Premier League clubs to ensure reusable or returnable cups are used in stadiums.

Arsenal isn’t the only football club to introduce this type of scheme.

Manchester City has introduced a returnable cup scheme which has helped with the removal of an estimated 29,000 single-use plastic cups per match. London clubs Chelsea, Fulham and West Ham have all trialled similar schemes. More broadly, the Lord’s and Oval cricket grounds and Twickenham rugby stadium all offer returnable cup initiatives.

The move follows previous work that Sky has done as part of its Ocean Rescue scheme with football clubs. The broadcasting firm has already said it would work with the Premier League to help remove all single-use plastics from its operations and supply chains by 2020. The Premier League was supported by a team of plastic experts from Sky, named the Sky Ocean Rescue Ninjas, to help the organisation reduce its reliance on single-use plastics.

Arsenal’s deputy stadium manager, Michael Lloyd added: “Alongside the removal of plastic straws and stirrers at Emirates Stadium, this milestone exemplifies how small operational changes can have a huge environmental impact over a sustained period.

“The reaction from our fans towards this scheme has been overwhelmingly positive and their support has played a huge part in helping us to reach this milestone.”

Matt Mace



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