Event Cup Solutions has reported on the successful implementation of its ONE Planet ONE Chance reusable cup system at Villa Park, home of English Premier League football club Aston Villa.
Villa became the first Premier League club to activate the system, which is designed to take the problem of reusable cups away from venues through the carbon neutral scheme, for the 3-3 Premier League draw against Leeds United on February 9 last year.
The scheme continued for the remaining games of the 2021-22 season where the lost rate of pint cups used was between 6% and 9%. Event Cup Solutions has now reported that, as of last month, for the first 10 games of the 2022-23 season, the loss rate has improved even further, to 2.7%.
The company said: “This is attributed to fans becoming more engaged and conversant with the reusable cup system, as well as improved, ongoing communications about the system through both physical and digital assets.”
The scheme was first launched with the client objectives of eliminating 500,000 single-use plastic cups from Villa Park each season, in line with the club’s ‘Claret, Blue and Green’ environmental sustainability initiative, along with raising funds for the Aston Villa Foundation.
Initial meetings were held between the project managers at Aston Villa and ONE Planet ONE Chance. It was agreed that the reusable cup system would work on the basis of a 10p (€0.11/$0.12) micro-deposit model.
Fans can either return their cup and reclaim their 10p, or they can put their cup into the bins provided, leave them at the kiosks or on the concourse. The profits generated from the deposit scheme are all donated to the Aston Villa Foundation – a registered charity that delivers the club’s community and social responsibility work.
Once the commercials and logistics were in place, the respective marketing and communications teams were introduced to the process.
Execution & Activation
The ONE Planet ONE Chance marketing team worked closely with Villa’s in-house creative design team to create a range of digital and print assets which communicated the system and how it works. Both Villa and ONE Planet ONE Chance teams exchanged brand guidelines and assets to create a range of bespoke material which has been used online and at Villa Park.
Activation of the reusable cup scheme for match day one at Villa Park back in February 2022 was deemed a success. Some 30,000 thousand cups were delivered in sealed tote boxes to Villa Park, and distributed across the 39 kiosks in the stadium.
Kick-off was at 8pm, so at approximately 4.30pm Event Cup Solutions director, John Reeves, carried out a training session for the various heads of bar operations for the four stands around the stadium. This included information on how the scheme works, expectations of the bar staff, and how to re-pack the cups into tote boxes, ready for return and washing.
Challenges & Resolutions
At all football matches, there is only a short time window to serve customers, i.e. pre-match and at half-time. No drinks are allowed into the actual stadium, meaning they have to be consumed in the concourse areas.
At Villa Park, there are multiple bars in each stand, with the stands having different tiers. With some bars being more popular than others, Event Cup Solutions said it was important, therefore, to ensure that prior to the bars opening, the distribution of cups between the bars reflected this.
The club was able to provide a forecast of how many cups were required at each bar, and cups were distributed accordingly. At the first match, the ONE Planet ONE Chance team also had representatives on site, one in each stand, to support the kiosk and cleaning crews.
Event Cup Solutions said: “With any new initiative, communicating the system in advance to the Aston Villa supporters would be critical to the success. This, coupled with educating the kiosk and cleaning staff on a completely different system to which they are used to, was imperative. Both of these communication challenges were addressed in the lead up to, and during, the first match.”
Event Cup Solutions added: “The ONE Planet ONE Chance reusable cup system was well received by the fans, and by the club itself. The Aston Villa Foundation financially benefits each home match through the profits generated from the 10p deposit scheme. The polypropylene cup provides Aston Villa supporters with a better customer experience than the single-use cups previously used at the stadium.
“There was a vast reduction in the amount of litter in the concourses, making the cleaning process quicker and easier. Fans were actively putting their ONE cups into the return bins provided or returning them to kiosks. Less than 10% of Aston Villa supporters wanted their deposit back, preferring to donate their cup to the Aston Villa Foundation.
“Loss rates have been below expected levels, which increases the amount of money generated for the Aston Villa Foundation. Fans were engaged with the fact that trees are planted as a direct result of them reusing their cup.”