THE beer snake is about to become extinct.
Overzealous security guards might have tried and failed in the past to stamp out the iconic symbol of the restless and well-quenched Australian sporting crowd.
But the unwieldy empties serpent will have its head cut off once and for all, at least in Sydney’s west, after a landmark decision to ban plastic cups.
Sunday’s AFL season opener between the GWS Giants and Essendon shapes as the start of a potential environmental revolution at sporting grounds in Australia, with the Sydney Showground officially outlawing the sale of single-use disposable plastic cups
Footy fans will instead be served their beers in reusable cups only – at the cost of $1 per head – after the Sydney Showground signed a multi-year agreement with Wise, an environmentally motivated company that has declared war on beer snakes across the country.
Punters will be required to pay a one-off $2 deposit for their first re-usable cup and then they’ll receive a fresh, new one for free with every beverage refill.
At full-time, fans can either choose to get back $1 back or keep the reusable cup and donate their gold coin to charity.
An estimated 12 million plastic disposable cups are used throughout the AFL season at grounds around the country, with the MCG alone selling around 500,000 beers in throwaway cups during the Boxing Day Test.
During a rain delay between Australia and Sri Lanka at an SCG Test in 2013, punters manufactured a 175-metre plastic cup beer snake. It might have been spectacular, but it was ultimately disastrous for the environment.
Reusable cups are commonplace at many sporting venues in Europe, with Lord’s cricket ground banning plastic and introducing them last year ahead of this winter’s Ashes.
The Sydney Showground deal covers GWS and Sydney Thunder BBL cricket matches as well as rugby union’s Sydney 7’s, where fan feedback was overwhelmingly positive to a trial of reusable cups.
GWS and the Thunder will be encouraged to put their branding on the cups to add a souvenir dimension.
Wise chief executive and co-founder Craig Lovett is confident punters will be happy, at the cost of $1, to help eradicate a massive environmental crisis.
“Over five million disposable plastic cups are going to landfill in Australia each month,” Lovett said.
“They are contaminating our land and are ending up in our waterways, rivers and beaches.
“The Wise solution empowers patrons and venue management to actively participate in the war-on-waste and make a significant environmental change.
“Almost 96 per cent of respondents (to market research in Sydney and Melbourne) wanted to see single-use cups being eliminated, and they were strongly in favour of donating their $1 returnable deposit to charity.”
It’s estimated the move to reusable cups at the Sydney Showground will also help cut down on cleaning costs.
Sydney Showground RAS chief executive Brock Gilmour said the agreement was a no-brainer.
“The Wise cups are a sensible and practical answers to a growing environmental issue,” he said.
Originally Published in The Daily Telegraph
Tuesday March 19, 2019