Saving the planet, one eco-cup at a time

27 August, 2021
Alex Demetriou, Managing Director

Eco-cup success at The Grand Pier, Weston-super-Mare (part of the Regency estate):

At the tail end of every season, the team at The Grand Pier meet to discuss how we can improve our visitor experience.

Way back in 2015, we took on the mammoth challenge of becoming a plastic-free attraction. To achieve a pledge like this is no easy challenge for any business, let alone a business located a quarter of a mile out to sea. So we knew it wouldn’t be a quick process.

We were able to make some fairly instant changes, introducing wooden cutlery, paper straws, wooden coffee stirrers, and ensuring all takeaway outlets used biodegradable food boxes. We also recycled all glass and cardboard.

However, one of the biggest challenges was finding a viable solution to replace our single use plastic cups; each year we were used approximately 120,000 cups, including cups used across the attraction and during concerts attracting up to 2,500 people per event. We explored several options before we found a suitable solution…

  • Recycling our existing cups presented a logistical challenge due to the volume and our location, plus they were expensive at £0.09 per cup.
  • Glass was immediately ruled out as we could not risk having broken glass on the premises with so many families and children on site.
  • Biodegradable cups were not financially viable.

When then looked into reusable polycarbonate cups, similar to those used at major sporting venues and festivals, and felt these cups could be a good fit for the pier.

While the initial driver was to reduce plastic waste, as we developed this idea further, we identified potential labour cost savings as well as revenue opportunities.

Our in-house design team created an original, eye-catching design with Grand Pier branding and we placed our first order of polycarbonate cups – at the time, we paid £0.35 per cup.

We implemented a deposit system where customers were charged a £1 refundable deposit for each cup, which was added to the cost of the drink. When the cup was returned, the customer would receive a £1 refund. However, we knew that with a strong design, customers were likely to keep the cups, creating a new revenue stream for us.

If the cups were returned to the bar, we saved on labour and once a cup had been used just four times, it became more economical than the previous single-use cups (which were £0.09 per cup).

Within the first few weeks of launch, cup ‘sales’ exceeded our expectations with over 3,000 cups being purchased and taken home by our customers.

By introducing eco-cups, we most importantly saved 120,000 cups entering landfill each year, but we also reduced labour costs, and thousands of our branded cups are now in people’s homes around the country, acting as a daily reminder of their visit to the Grand Pier.

And finally, due to the popularity of the cups, we created and launched series of complementary designs in various colours, creating a ‘set’ to encourage regular visitors to continue to add to their collection following each visit.

If you’d like to discuss eco-cups and/or other ways you can reduce the impact your business has on the environment, get in touch today.

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