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End plastic mandate

Pubs, clubs and other venues forced to use single-use plastic by outdated regulation
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Beer in a plastic cup on a brown table with a blurry background

Yesterday (25 October), the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and A Plastic Planet issued a joint call for Licensing Authorities to allow pubs to use alternatives to plastic pints.

With awareness of the devastating impact of plastic pollution increasing, CAMRA has launched a campaign to see Licensing Authorities stop mandating the use of plastic or polycarbonate as a licensing condition for pubs, social clubs and other on-trade venues.

CAMRA has previously supported calls made by global solutions organisation A Plastic Planet for plastic pints to be included in government bans on single-use plastic.

‘It is an outdated and irrational position of Licensing Authorities to mandate the use of damaging single-use plastic when the sustainable alternatives are readily available.

‘The British public is eager to see change. Venues are being shackled by the narrow specifications handed down from above. The pubs and bars of the UK should be able to drive forward their shared agenda of making sustainable alternatives to plastic the norm.’

Co-founder of A Plastic Planet

’Shackled’ to single-use plastic

According to research from A Plastic Planet, 75% of consumers say that plastic ruins the taste of beer, with 89% going further and saying that they’d like to see plastic pints banned for good.

Despite overwhelming consumer agreement, Licensing Authorities across the UK sometimes mandate the use of plastic or polycarbonate as a condition of a venue’s premises license – something CAMRA would like to see changed.

As it stands, almost 70% of plastic pint cups will end up in landfill or as litter. Plastic cups are the sixth most littered item in UK rivers and eighth most commonly found item on our beaches, so with innovative alternatives being developed all the time, CAMRA is asking why pubs and social clubs – the undisputed homes of the proper pint – are still being shackled to single-use plastic.

‘CAMRA’s members voted to add environmental campaigning to the areas we lobby on at our 2021 Conference and we want to support the innovators who are creating solutions for a plastic free pint but can’t currently market their products to the on-trade.

‘Longer-term, CAMRA will be calling for plastic pints to be included in the bans on single use plastic being rolled out by governments across the UK, to ensure that our nation isn’t clogged with littered plastic pints and that we can always enjoy real ale, cider and perry without the taste of plastic.

‘For one area of government to be mandating the use of plastic, while other areas of government look at banning it is ridiculous, and we want to see a more joined-up approach to this issue.’

CAMRA campaigns director

Shatterproof pints

In venues where pints might be dropped or broken, CAMRA is calling for licensees to be allowed to adopt some of the alternative to plastic pints, made using everything from paper to aluminium to compostable corn starch.

Through over 200 branches across the UK, members of the campaigning group are writing to their local Licensing Authorities asking for a simple change in wording to the licensing conditions applied to venues where using glass wouldn’t be in the interests of public safety.

Rather than specifying plastic, licensing could include a wider range of materials or simply give the criteria a material should meet – for example, requiring that beer is served using shatterproof pints.

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