In The Drink: tackling plastic cups


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). 


Plastic cups mingle with wildlife on the Thames foreshore: In the Drink photo


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 partnership between Thames-focused organisations, businesses and recreational users committed to helping bars, events and boat operators located on our London waterways to move towards alternatives to single-use plastic. Set up in 2018, the first phase of the project focused on research, funded by WRAP, to identify barriers to bars making the switch and helping to identify solutions.

In the Drink aims to work with bar owners and managers to support them to change in a way which helps their business to thrive and grow without incurring prohibitive costs. The number of businesses recently announcing their intention to reduce single-use plastic shows that doing so is not only good for the environment but also a way to win new customers and increase loyalty from existing ones.

Alongside Thames21, other In the Drink partners include Active360, Tideway, Anti-Plastic People,  Ally Bee and the Thames Estuary Partnership.