Considering Souvenir Cups
If cups are prevalent in your event's trash, give people a drink in a cup that's so nice, they'll want to take it home. This reduces waste and advertises your event year round. Get even more waste reduction and advertising benefits from souvenir cups by offering refills too.
- Make customers want to keep the cup
- Use a unique and visually exciting design that is tied to the theme of your event.
- Change the design periodically so repeat visitors will be motivated to keep a cup again.
- Consider charging more for a drink in a souvenir cup so that only the people who want to keep the cup will get one. This ensures that the cups don't end up in the trash at your event. And you can make more money that way.
- Make sure the souvenir cup does not appear to hold less than a disposable cup.
- Bring your team into the plan
- Ask a sponsor to contribute to help pay for souvenir cups; offer a logo placement opportunity.
- Check with security staff when designing cups. Consider a clear cup if monitoring for underage drinking is a factor.
- Ask servers for input.
- Plan for promoting the souvenir cups.
- Know your site's rules for beverage containers - some venues don't allow glass or metal beverage containers. Plastic is allowed in most settings.
- Keep recycling instructions clear. Most souvenir cups are not recyclable. Appropriate signs and instructions should prevent people from placing cups in recycling bins. "Cans and Bottles Only" is a good sign message.
- Consider refills; this eliminates additional disposable cups, saving supplies and disposal costs.
- A person is more likely to carry the cup all day and take it home if they can use it repeatedly at the event. Also, people might want one as a souvenir, but probably not a whole set. Refilling the cup ensures that it will serve to reduce waste and promote your event, and saves money on cup purchases.
- A discount or other incentive helps to increase refills, although refill programs with no incentive have had success.
- Choose beverage dispensers that can be used for refills without health risk (or check your existing dispensers before deciding to offer refills). Refills are acceptable to the health department from beer taps and from soda dispensers operated with a button or automatic sensor. It is possible to offer refills with lever-operated dispensers by filling pitchers and then pouring the beverage from a pitcher to a refillable cup. The State of Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services states,
"Self-service beverage dispensers which have a lever that is pressed by the lip portion of a cup in order to activate the flow of the beverage are prohibited. This lever is contaminated by the lip portion of the reused cup or the patron's hand and then contaminates the cup of the next patron."
- Check with servers about logistics for refills; ensure that their system allows them to keep track of a customer's cup and return it to the right person.
- Plan a way to track refill sales; if cup counts are the method used to check the number of servings sold, consider using a push-button counter to record a count for refill sales.
- Make sure that the servers understand the souvenir cup and refill program. Encourage them to promote the refillable cups to consumers.
- Use point of purchase signs to promote the refillable cups as a means of reducing waste and as souvenirs. Signs should explain the refill policy.
- Keep records of souvenir cup and refill sales so that you can measure the cost savings resulting from the program, and to refine the cup order from year to year.
- Use pitchers to reduce waste and streamline service
- Getting people to reuse souvenir or disposable cups by offering pitchers reduces waste, saves money, shortens lines and reduces demands on vendors - but only if servers refrain from handling out cups with each pitcher.
- To make this strategy work, servers should ask, "Do you already have cups?" and only give cups to those who do not.
- Disposable pitchers can be used to create less trash. If your event has access to dishwashers, rent or buy durable pitchers to eliminate even more trash. Charge a deposit on them. Wash them after they're returned for the deposit.