Just ten items of plastic litter account for around 80% of all the plastic items we count in our Thames River Watch citizen science monitoring, giving us a clear list of items to target if we want to protect the Thames from plastic pollution. One of those top ten items is plastic cups from pubs and party boats (used as an alternative to pint and half pint glasses).
Not only are plastic cups very common, they shatter quickly into smaller and smaller pieces, potentially adding to the problem of microplastic. Single-use plastic cups are rarely recycled in the UK, with the majority ending up in landfill or incineration. Yet we know that these can be replaced with alternatives such as reusable hard plastic glasses, glass or durable reusable stainless steel.
In the Drink is a not-for-profit community interest company, that is committed to helping bars, events and boat operators located on our London waterways to move towards alternatives to single-use plastic. It was co-founded by a partnership of organisations and individuals, who care about protecting marine environments and look towards a brighter more sustainable future, that includes Active360, Ally Bee, Anti-Plastic People, Thames21 and others.
Set up in 2018, the first phase of the project focused on research, funded by WRAP, was to identify barriers to bars making the switch and help to identify solutions. The report can now be found here: A review of London’s riverside bars attitudes to phasing out single use cups – In the Drink for the Litter Innovation Fund – June update 2019 – FINAL.