Written by daniel

This article is part of our toolbox
“Tackling  waste in tourism & events”

Beverage packaging is made from large variety of materials such as plastic, glass or metal which all have their own specific valorisation paths. One the most iconic packaging is the plastic water bottle whose material comes from petroleum/natural gas. As everyone needs to drink you can’t avoid  providing beverages in hotels, restaurants or events. However we’ll see below why and how it is still possible to reduce those “beverage” waste products.



Due to its technical assets (light, transparent, shapeable) and its cheapness, plastic has been the most used material to carry beverages. There are numerous types of plastic, including PET, PETE, HDPE, PVC, PP… mostly derived from oil.

  • A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute.
  • National Geographic shared that since 1950, among the 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste created worldwide, only 9%  has been recycled (Science Advances)
  • Nowdays, recycling rates vary largely inbetween countries e.g. the U.S. has remained at 9% since 2012, ranking behind Europe (30%) and China (25%)
  • Ocean Conservancy indicated that plastic straws represented 4% of the waste collected in the ocean  in 2009


Glass is in majority composed of silica, which can be found in raw material (silica sand or glass cullet). 

  • Thrown away in the nature, glass can take more than 4000 years to decompose !
  • Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss of quality. 
  • With the high risks of sand shortage, it is all the more important to preserve that resource and to recycle glass bottles.  


Metal is the third main type of containers for beverages, especially with beer and soda cans which use about 200 billion aluminium cans every year 

  • It represents 6,700 cans every second,  or a tour of the globe every 17 hours
  • Producing aluminium represents 2 percent of the world’s energy use. On the other hand, recycled aluminium only consume  5 percent of the energy needed to produce virgin aluminium.
  • In the USA alone, the entire American commercial air fleet could be rebuilt from all the aluminium cans thrown away !

Learn more:


Identify: What are the waste streams related to beverage that end up in your bins? Plastic glasses, straws, cans, bottles, swizzle stick …

Measure / estimate: How many straws/plastic bottles are you distributing on average per day at the bar? during your event? Follow up on key indicators: learn more.

#1 Reusable cups

Instead of disposable cups, reusable cups can be used multiple times
They are often made of glass or Polypropylene (PP). You can either buy your own reusable cup if you have a daily use for them or rent them for a punctual event. Don’t put a date on them or make them too thematic, to ensure you can reuse them in future editions

Possible if: the alternative is ecologically valid only if each reusable items is used multiple times before it is thrown away (for PP cups: 7 times). Ensure that cleaning those beverage package won’t require too much water or energy

Save money: you can reuse each ecocup a 100 times.
Gain trust: show that you care.
Differentiate yourself: Brand your ecocups with a nice design

Cost money: purchase 500 ecocup for 530€, rent 500 ecocup for 12€
Require anticipation:
 implement a deposit and washing system




  • In New Zealand & Australia, Globelet helps festivals and events reduce their environmental impact by providing them with reusable systems and products that eliminate single use packaging and disposable cups.
  • Gobelet, Festicup, Gobi, EcocupShop… the list is long !

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#2 Tap water
to reduce plastic bottle waste

 Set up self service fountains or make water jugs available so people can easily fill in their own bottles. When selecting a venue, speak to all vendors to make sure they won’t provide bottled water. Plan the water distribution carefully to ensure that water and containers are easy to access and that they are refilled all day long if needed.

Possible if: you’re located in a city/country providing a controlled and safe potable tap water.

Save money: Tap water can be 100 to 200 less expensive than bottled water !

Cost money: about 20€ per month to rent a water fountain.
If you’re usually selling bottled water you might loose the associated turnover, but you can replace it by selling nice refillable bottles as souvenirs for example.
Requires anticipation

Not always possible


  • The Lecoq-Gadby hotel has Nordaq FRESH water machines, they explain that they see it as a double advantage: to improve the work conditions for staff, as they no longer have to carry around crates of water, and to save on storage and on the cost (and the waste !) of bottled water.
  • The website/app  Refill My Bottle! showcases all the businesses that let people refill their water bottle for free or minimum fee. Look for RefillMyBottle stickers in the windows of shops, cafes, galleries…
  • During the ChangeNOW summit, participants can have a drink at their trendy “Water Bar” where they can also get fresh, local and plastic-free water & lemonade.
  • During WeLoveGreen festival (France), there was many free water points and 2000 reusable water bottles were distributed by CRIPS. to the festival participants and staff. Glass water jugs were prepared for the Think Tank stage and the artists,


Your local water provider !

  • Event Water Solutions is the leader in providing water refill stations across North America, Europe, and Australia for festivals and events. Combining technology, health and safety, and customer experience, their solutions have been successful in different types of events, from concerts to marathons.
  • Filtered water fountains: Nordaq FRESH, Castalie, or even CleanCup that even washes cups automatically!

See our collaborative database: click here
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#3 Avoid single-use straws

Don’t offer straws unless clients request it. If they ask, offer straws made from alternative materials such as bamboo, glass, paper or steel. Bamboo and paper straws can be composted while glass and steel ones can be reused

Possible if: you’re also explaining why – straws are hardly recyclable, not essentials (unless medical expections) and most of the straws end up in the oceans.

Save money: by avoiding to give straws
Differentiate yourself and gain trust: by showing that you care.
Easy to implement !

Costs: Comparative prices for one straw:
– from 0,06€ to 1,2€ for paper and bamboo straws
– from 0,50€ to 1,5€ for steel or glass straws (wash and reuse them).
Cleaning time with reusable straw.


  • BaliBoo is an online store which aims at reducing plastic pollution one straw at a time! With their Bamboo straw shipped worldwide, they’re great reusable alternatives to plastic straw

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  • A lot of cities or countries have already acted to banish plastic straws : Paris, Seattle, Vancouver and Miami Beach, as well as Taiwan, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. It’s on its way in Switzerland with the Papaille mouvement.
  • Marriott Hotels will be eliminating plastic straws from its 6,500 hotels within 2020.

#4 Sustainable containers: eatable, compostable or recyclable

When disposable containers remain necessary opt for ecological ones !
Some beverage containers are made of biscuits or chocolates, no traces afterward !
For cheaper options, you may select recyclable materials such as paper

Possible if: ensure the ecoconception of the tools – some “bioplastics” are actually not recyclable and hardly compostable ; some paper cup seem recyclable but have a thin plastic linen, preventing their recyclability.

Differentiate yourself

Cost money: it is more expensive.


Tassiopée has created cups that can be eaten after drinking the coffee !

Cup2paper is a disposable cup made of cardboard, reusable and entirely recyclable

Feel inspired?

Check our collaborative database : click here
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Are you also wondering about sustainable packaging ? We invite you to have a look at our other article here !

#5 Recycling

Plastic bottles are made principally of PET and PEHD which are recyclable materials : grinded into plastic granules, they can be reused for new products

Glass : is recyclable to infinity   

Cans: are principally made of steel and aluminium, which can be recycled without losing quality. They can serve new uses, including new packaging, car industry, construction…

Possible if:
Check for your country’s regulation. In Europe, it is often compulsory to sort those waste.
Collecting and well-sorting are essential for recycling. Help your consumers and employees make the right gesture: clear signaletics, localisations such as next to the coffee machine … Read our dedicated article

Environmental : 1 tonne of PET can save up to 670 liters of water, of 2 tons of CO2 compare to virgin plastic

Cost time 


At the French national Stadium, nudges are used to help the visitor increase their sorting : the entry point of the containers have the form of the plastic bottle, and clear signages to avoid mistakes.

Adidas has created in collaboration with the NGO Parley for the Oceans, a sneaker made from recycled plastic. Each pair of shoes contains 11 plastic bottles. In 2019, the Group has even commited to eliminate virgin plastic from their supply chain, and will only use recycled plastic by 2024 !

Adidas limited edition recycled shoes

These adidas are made from recycled sea plastic.

Posted by The Verge on Thursday, June 23, 2016


As individual check with the local waste operator.
For businesses, you can contact waste operator companies which will offer adapted solutions

Feel inspired?

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#6 Bottle housing

Both glass plastic bottles have a very strong resistance. You may transform them into construction uses, especially if you don’thave a recycling industry in your country.

Possible if:
Ensure there are no toxic components in the material used

Cheap material
Non-Brittle, and can absorbs abrupt shock loads

Cost (a lot of) time 


The Circle Hostel chain, located inthe Philippines, has used rubbish found on beaches and in the water, to stuff plastic bottles. Then used these solidly packed bottles to create eco-bricks as a way of upcycling plastics rather than letting them leak back into the environment. In 2016, the founder of Circle Hostel, Ziggie Gonzales launched The Plastic Solution, hoping to encourage individuals and businesses to put this process into action

In Thailand, the Wat Pa Maha Chedio Kaew temple has found a way to bottle-up . The temple, which sits in Thailand’s Sisaket province, is made of more than a million recycled glass bottles.


The Bangladesh Agricultural University has published this study on the strength properties of plastic bottle bricks and their suitability as construction materials

You may also find recommandations and steps to construct such as instructables,, the Samarpan Foundation or WasteAid, which has created a guide on how to transform plastic bottle into ecobricks

Feel inspired?

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“Tackling  waste in tourism & events”

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