Labour-run Bristol City Council has taken a bold step in reducing single-use plastics and promoting sustainable alternatives.

Drinks will no longer be sold in single-use cups at City Hall. Staff will have to bring their own re-usable cup and visitors will be served drinks in ceramic mugs. This is one of a number of changes that will reduce single-use plastics in council-run outlets and buildings.

Other changes include the serving of water in glasses at full council meetings and the installation of a second water fountain on the first floor of City Hall, which has become a ‘Refill’ station – meaning members of the public can drop in to fill up their bottles. Freestanding water coolers have been removed from meeting rooms and plastic cups are no longer available. The staff cafe at City Hall will be phasing out the sale of water in plastic bottles and reducing the use other items of plastic food packaging and tableware.

Further plans include making sure that outlets including council-run cafes in parks and museums offer reusable cups for sale, and improvements to some of the recycling facilities in council offices.

Mayor Marvin Rees said: “I’m pleased we’re taking this step in reducing our use of single-use plastics. We know that as a council we need to lead by example and bring the whole city with us. This is only the beginning of what we hope to achieve alongside partners in Bristol, to continue our position as a leading sustainable city.”

It is estimated that more than 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used in the UK each year. Due to difficulties in separating the plastic lining from these cups, only 1% of this amount is ever recycled. The vast majority find their way to landfill with a further 500,000 ending up as litter every day.  The environmental cost of this is significant and affects us all.

Councillor Steve Pearce, who has recently taken on the role of cabinet member for waste, said: “We must all play a part in reducing the environmental impact of our plastic use. The museums have got rid of most plastics for sale, some of our cafes and parks have made similar changes and refill stations are popping up around the city. Lots of people already carry reusable water bottles and cups, but we want to encourage everyone to do their bit. If we are all committed to making just one change in behaviour, the difference would be significant.”

Mayor Marvin Rees promoting the reusable cups on sale
Mayor Marvin Rees promoting the reusable cups on sale
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