European Union’s Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive increases the need for an alternative to cardboard cup holders

Apr 11, 2024

Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem, because plastic waste ends up in our air, our soil, our oceans, and in our food.” – Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for sustainable development


Since 2019 the European Union has embarked on an ambitious plan to curb plastic waste with a directive targeting single-use plastics (SUPs). As usual, Member States of the EU are still free to fill in their legislative approach to accomplishing the set goals and rules. Recent examples of that include Belgium’s complete ban on SUP cups and the Netherlands’ new rules that also ban many SUPs at events and other establishments, albeit with certain exceptions.

These pivotal steps signal a shift towards more sustainable events, promising significantly cleaner festival grounds. However, amidst these progressive changes, one item consistently eludes regulation: cardboard drink carriers. Their continued unchecked use presents a looming challenge, as they will become the main litter offenders at events. Worse yet, these carriers often bear the logos of brewers, inadvertently pointing fingers at them for the mess left behind.

Let’s delve into the EU’s rules on SUPs, their impact for event organizers, and then explore how brewers and event organizers can confront the challenge posed by cardboard cup holders head-on, transforming a potential negative into a positive opportunity for eco-friendly branding.

Overview of EU Rules

The EU’s directive on single-use plastics serves as a cornerstone in the fight against plastic pollution. It underscores the EU’s commitment to reducing plastic waste and aligns with broader efforts to foster a circular economy and sustainable practices. With this, the EU aims to be a leading body in the fulfilment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Here are the directive’s main points:

  • Plastic ban in certain products: Single-use plastic products like plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons are banned. They instead have to be made from more sustainable materials. Single-use drink containers like bottles are only allowed if their caps and lids stay attached.
  • Consumption reduction targets: Member States need to cut down on how much plastic food containers and drinks cups are used. Single-use plastic products can no longer be provided for free. National reduction targets have to be set and alternatives offered at the point of sale.
  • Obligations for producers: Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes have to be implemented. Producers will help cover costs for waste management and clean-up and awareness-raising measures. Incentives will also be put in place to encourage the development of less polluting alternatives for SUP’s.
  • Collection targets: All members states have to collect 90% of SUP bottles by 2025, possibly through schemes that give people money back for returning them.
  • Labeling Requirements: Sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons must have clear and standardized labels showing they contain plastics, their environmental toll and how to dispose of them correctly.
  • Awareness-raising measures: Finally, EU Member-States must educate people on the harm caused by littering plastics and fishing gear and promote the available re-use systems and waste management options.

(source: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_18_3927)

For event organizers and brewers, the implication is clear: a shift towards sustainability is not just encouraged but mandated. With strict targets on reduction and recycling, the directive requires events to rethink their approach to disposables, aiming for a significant reduction in plastic waste footprint.

Keep in mind that regulations will be different depending on your region. In general, though, shifting towards reusable alternatives for single-use plastic cups, plates, cutlery and so on is your safest bet. The shift won’t come without challenges, such as ensuring proper return and cleaning of these reusable items.

Depending on your location, focusing on gathering up and recycling SUP products can also be an option. You’ll have to ensure that a high percentage (towards 90% over the coming years) is collected and put through a high quality recycling process. That means the recycled plastic has to still be safe for food-grade use.

Implications Regarding Cardboard Cup Holders

Despite these progressive measures, the directive’s silence on cardboard drink carriers leaves a gaping hole in the battle against event waste. As events become cleaner and more sustainable, thanks to the phasing out of single-use plastics, cardboard carriers will emerge as the primary litter source.

This not only poses a logistical clean-up challenge but also morphs into a peculiar form of negative advertising. With brewers’ logos prominently displayed, these discarded carriers associate brands directly with waste, turning an attempt at visibility into an unintended anti-marketing campaign.

Solution in The Original Cupkeeper

The Original Cupkeeper offers a combination of innovation and sustainability. As an excellent alternative to the prevalent cardboard drink carriers, The Original Cupkeeper is not just an eco-conscious choice but a durable, long-lasting one. Made from earth-friendly materials (using recycled polypropylene from consumer waste as much as possible) and designed for end-of-life recyclability, it embodies practical sustainability.

Read here about what makes The Original Cupkeeper an eco-friendly reusable cup holder that outshines cardboard not only in sustainability, but also in functionality.

As its appeal extends beyond its environmental footprint; aesthetically pleasing and handy, The Original Cupkeeper transforms from a mere drink carrier into a coveted souvenir, encouraging fans to re-use it repeatedly. This shift in perception is crucial – branding on a waste item sends a negative message, but on The Original Cupkeeper, it offers a narrative of eco-responsibility and care.

In doing so, brewers and event organizers can convert every user into a walking ambassador for their brand, promoting sustainability through visible, practical action.


Plastic can be fantastic, but we need to use it more responsibly. Single use plastics are not a smart economic or environmental choice, and today’s proposals will help business and consumers to move towards sustainable alternatives.” – Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness

As the EU forges ahead with its new rules, the transition towards sustainability at events marks a period of significant change, marred only by the persistent issue of cardboard drink carriers. The Original Cupkeeper presents not just a solution to this challenge but an opportunity to redefine brand interaction with consumers in the context of environmental responsibility. Embracing this change can transform event grounds from sites of waste to testimonies of sustainable practice, all while offering a unique branding opportunity.

We invite event organizers and brewers ready to take this step towards sustainability to reach out for a custom quote or more information through our provided contact options. Join our journey towards cleaner, greener events by subscribing to our newsletter for insights and practices in event sustainability. Let’s make every event a statement for a better, cleaner world with The Original Cupkeeper.


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