“Athletes are taking responsibility to get their sports more sustainable”
Picture this. It’s your turn to buy the drinks. You’re at a major rugby event and it’s half time. The bar is ten-deep. When you finally get served, you buy four drinks. They are in single use plastic cups. You’re given a flimsy cardboard tray. By the time you get to your seat, the second half has started. You’ve spilt a lot of beer. One beer nearly fell out. You don’t want to go to the bar again. Sound familiar?
According to research by Tappit, the global payment ecosystem for events, stadia and venues, 62% of rugby fans and 72% football fans claim queueing at games is the worst part of the match experience. STACK-CUP™ is looking to change that. Not only are they solving a problem, but they are making the sports and entertainment industry more sustainable in the process.
With their reusable cup, and patented handle that allows for the stacking of multiple drinks, STACK-CUP™ is changing the game. They have evidence to show that bar service is twice as quick.
James Roles, Global MD of STACK-CUP™, started his career in marketing, working for numerous media agencies and media outlets before he took on the Global Managing Director role at STACK-CUP™.
He admits that STACK-CUP™ was an attractive proposition as not only did it offer up the opportunity to have a stake in the company but it was also a product that was addressing two issues. Removing single use plastic from major events and providing fans with a better experience.
“Our purpose at STACK-CUP™ is to eradicate
single-use plastics from stadiums, events and festivals”
Blue Planet was a tipping point. Attitudes toward single use plastic have hardened and behaviour (and government legislation) is changing for the better. In particular, the negative impact on our oceans is firmly in the social consciousness across the world. James views this as a very real gap in the market for a company and product like STACK-CUP™.
“There are few Industries that are currently in high demand with significantly more headroom for growth. Our purpose at STACK-CUP™ is to eradicate single-use plastics from stadiums, events and festivals by replacing them with a reusable cup programme. We have invested significantly in washing facilities and logistics to enable this to happen successfully.”
“Many stadiums and venues are resistant to change. But the day is coming when they’ll have to adapt. Giving customers a better experience makes change easier. The stackable handle makes such a big difference. You can carry a whole bunch of cups in one hand and have your phone or a pie in the other.”
Changing behaviour is exactly what is being called for across the board. After a year that has seen a huge increase of media attention on the issues around sustainability and single-use plastics, James sees the sport and entertainment industries as key to switching the impetus onto sustainability.
“Sport and entertainment venues are in the spotlight. They’re naturally going to be the ones that people look to change their behaviour and the most progressive one have already.”
This is shown through the impressive list of clients STACK-CUP™are working with, with the likes of The O2, The Oval, Leicester Tigers, Saracens and Major League Baseball to name just a few.
But whilst many businesses have joined the STACK-CUP™revolution, James admits that there are still multiple challenges he faces in attracting more venues, clubs and stadiums to switch from single-use to reusable cups.
The danger is a stadium simply opts for the cheapest
option. When this happens, the end result is nobody wins
“Sustainability comes at a cost. There is an ongoing challenge for stadiums to balance the need to be more sustainable, but not a commercial drain. To add to that, there is a need to ensure that a stadium’s operation is not disrupted to the detriment of customers whilst change is happening. The danger is a stadium simply opts for the cheapest option. When this happens, the end result is nobody wins.”
“It’s a real joy for me to see fans using STACK-CUP™for the first time. One guy even said it had changed his life. When you see a person’s face light up the first time they carry four beers in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other, I know that we are onto something. It’s fun, convenient and it does what it says on the tin .”
To address the cost of reusable cups, stadiums have started to charge customers a deposit or fee to use a reusable cup. Typically this is a £1 that is refundable. This is an effective way of mitigating the cost of reusables and one that customers now accept as normal practice. Much like charging for carrier bags in the supermarket.
“As long as customers don’t get ripped off with the deposit sum, this model is here to stay and that’s a really positive step.”
Another key element James acknowledges in the fight against single-use plastics is the interest and campaigning of the athletes themselves.
“Athletes themselves are taking responsibility as
spokespeople to get both their own sports and
other sports to change and be more sustainable”
“Athletes themselves are taking responsibility as spokespeople to get both their own sports and other sports to change and be more sustainable. You see that especially in sailing where it is directly related to polluting oceans, with the likes of Dee Caffari who are really authentically involved in making the change.”
Alongside athletes like Caffari, you also have individuals like Kiko Matthews, with her #KikPlastic project, and 2016 Olympic gold medallist sailor Hannah Mills, with the recently launched Big Plastic Pledge, who are all using their platforms to change the way we view plastic use in sport.
STACK-CUP™ has launched a number of it’s own programmes to complement the work being done by athletes. Its Cup4Clubs programme donates cups for reuse in youth sports clubs that struggle to afford the cost of everything, let alone cups. They are also involved in the implementation of charity deposit bins with clients they work with. At Leicester Tigers for example, customers have the opportunity to donate their deposit fee by placing their cup into the charity bin at the end of the match.
“It is a really nice circular way of making sure that the venue does the right thing, we do the right thing and we raise money for fantastic causes.”
“We have a unique opportunity to make the customer
experience better. Let’s eradicate single
use plastic and half time nightmares”
The future of STACK-CUP™ looks promising. Europe is their main market, but having also partnered with the hugely popular Hong Kong Sevens, global expansion is already well under way. The US and Australia have suddenly started to wake up to the possibilities with STACK-CUP™.
“Our main goal is to take our reusable cup programmes to as many venues and stadiums as we can, as fast as we can. With our STACK-CUP™ we have a unique opportunity to make the customer experience better. Let’s eradicate single use plastic and half time nightmares.”