New Research Calls Out Single-use Waste at Events

DAMARISCOTTA, Maine, Aug. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — With fans returning to sports arenas and music festivals, sustainability issues at events…

DAMARISCOTTA, Maine, Aug. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — With fans returning to sports arenas and music festivals, sustainability issues at events and venues are coming back into focus – specifically, the ever-present disposable plastic cup. 

The average stadium that hosts 300 events/year uses 5.4 million single-use cups, creating a whopping 63.75 tons of waste

We’ve seen many solutions introduced, from bioplastic and aluminum single-use cups to reusable cups. But there has been no clear scientific consensus on the environmental impact of these options – until now.  

Upstream commissioned a life-cycle assessment to examine the environmental impacts of single-use and reusable cups made from different materials. The analysis focused on cups used in U.S-based arenas and stadiums during an average event season. 

Key Findings:

  1. Reusable stainless steel and polypropylene cups are by far the most sustainable options, outperforming single-use cups across all environmental metrics.
  2. Among single-use cups, PET and PLA cups are better options for the climate.
  3. Single-use aluminum cups are the worst option for the climate, using 47% more energy and creating 86% more carbon dioxide than single-use plastic options.
  4. Transporting and washing reusable cups had a minor impact in comparison to single-use cups.
  5. The average stadium that hosts 300 events annually uses 5.4 million single-use cups – creating a whopping 63.75 tons of plastic waste. If these were replaced with reusable polypropylene (PP) cups used 300 times and then thrown away, that would generate less than one ton of waste (and no waste if the cups were recycled).


  1. Venues and events companies should begin shifting away from all single-use cups, not just single-use plastic. 
  2. Single-use aluminum cups are not a sustainable option, even if recycled.
  3. Venues and events companies can create their own reusable cup systems, license 3rd party systems, or hire reuse companies to provide the service for them.
  4. Venues can save and make money from deploying reusable cup systems, via: a) savings on disposables procurement, b) savings on waste management costs, c) savings on clean-up and litter, d) opportunities for brand partnerships and brand loyalty, and e) opportunities for tech integration, special offers and valuable customer use data.

«The events industry can be a leader in the new reuse economy by adopting reusable cups systems,» said Matt Prindiville, Upstream’s CEO. «Besides bringing us closer to a zero-waste world, fans and employees will love it.»

Upstream is an environmental non-profit organization sparking innovative solutions to plastic pollution by helping people, businesses and communities shift from single-use to reuse.

Contact: Alexandrea Davis,

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SOURCE Upstream