Catholic environmental groups are urging parishes, sports groups and Catholic schools to ban single-use plastic.
The call comes as the environmentalists welcomed appeals for football clubs to adopt returnable cups at their stadiums to cut plastic waste.
Ellen Teague, of the Columban Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, and Dr Edward Echlin, an eco-theologian and Honorary Fellow at Leeds Trinity University, joined Friends of the Earth and the British Association for Sustainable Sport (Basis) in calling on teams to make the shift to help get rid of millions of unnecessary single-use plastic beer and cold drinks cups handed out at venues each year.
“Wouldn’t it be fantastic to make the shift to help get rid of millions of unnecessary single-use plastic beer and cold drinks cups handed out at venues each year,” Mrs Teague told The Catholic Universe.
“While it is great to see some clubs move in a sustainable direction, it is still the case that more than six million single-use plastic beer cups may have used in the Premier League last season alone. Clubs should also make sure fans can easily access drinking water through fountains and refilling reusable bottles that they are encouraged to bring.
“There is clear indication that football fans want this move,” Mrs Teague continued. “A YouGov poll, commissioned by Friends of the Earth, found that 84 per cent agree that clubs should ensure reusable or returnable cups are used in their stadiums.”
Some clubs are already making the move, with Manchester City introducing a stadium-wide returnable cup scheme which it estimates will help remove an average of 29,000 single-use plastic cups per match.
Similar schemes have been operating at cricket venues, such as Lord’s and the Oval, and Twickenham rugby stadium, for several years, while football clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and Fulham trialled a scheme last season.
Football clubs in the top four divisions are being urged to sign up to Friends of the Earth’s plastic pledge to replace single-use cups with reusable ones, as well as removing non-essential single-use plastic straws, bags and cutlery.
The pledge would also see efforts to make sure fans can easily access drinking water through fountains and refilling reusable bottles.
Mrs Teague also took the opportunity to call on parishes and Catholic schools to follow suit.
“If football stadiums can do it, churches can too,” she said. “What about banning single-use plastics in parishes and Catholic schools? Disposable plastic cups are completely unnecessary and wasteful,” she added.
Meanwhile, Dr Echlin highlighted just how important it is to cut plastic waste and instead use reusable and recyclable containers.
“Plastic waste is a major issue of our time, one that should be eliminated,” he said. “Returnable cups can be useful in compost, whereas plastic is a perennial problem.”
Picture: Reusable cups (Friends of the Earth/PA).