Product Spotlight: Steel Cups

Steel Cups - Why They're The Best Reusable Cups

“More and more of us own reusable cups and bottles to cut down on throwaway plastic and protect our wildlife, seas and rivers. Covid-19 has changed many of our routines, so it’s great that more than 100 experts have reassured us that reusable containers can be safe for food, drinks and other groceries during the pandemic, if washed properly.”
- Nina Schrank, a campaigner at Greenpeace UK,

2020 and 2021 have been tough, battling with a pandemic and as a result a rise in plastic pollution. Many of our daily routines have been turned upside down, but it’s important to remember that while many of our fellow humans are suffering, we shouldn’t allow the planet to endure the same misfortune. 

Now this isn’t to say the necessary things aren’t doing more good than harm, but for the non-essentials like to-go coffee or an outside pint at your local, we need to be mindful of how we’re consuming.


The Problem

Cast your mind back to when pubs were allowed to open again after the first Covid-19 UK lockdown. Can you remember the pictures hitting the newspapers?

Manchester Pandemic Litter
A Manchester park summer 2020. Photo credit: The Mirror

After seeing the rise in single-use plastics in the summer of 2020 with lockdowns easing, we researched reusable alternatives to stock on our shop to try and help raise awareness and reduce plastic use.

Here are some of the stats we discovered about disposable cups in the UK:

  • In 2019, there were 7000+ outdoor events in the UK with 85 million attendees
  • 100+ MILLION disposable plastic cups were used at these events!
  • Due to the complexity of sorting disposable cups from mixed waste, most of these cups were disposed of by incineration or by being sent to landfill

Why is this a problem? Well, it takes up to 500 years for plastic to degrade - in which time it breaks down into harmful microplastics. 8 million tonnes of plastic was dumped in our oceans in 2017 alone, this needs to stop.

How about recycling? Only 9% of plastic has been recycled in the last 60 years.

    While these stats are staggering, they only talk about the waste aspect of disposable cups - they don't take into consideration the carbon footprint of manufacturing or distribution.

    That’s a LOT of single-use ending up in landfill or the ocean. Plus, that doesn’t even take into account the energy footprint of manufacturing, distributing and then the energy needed to recycle them...

    Beach litter in Bournemouth 2020. Photo credit: iNews

    “The research suggest that even when single use cups are recycled that they have a significantly higher impact on the environment due to the cumulative impact of manufacturing, than reusable cups.” Source:

    Why Steel Cups Are The Solution

    After lots of research, we found the most sustainable alternative to disposable cups were stainless steel cups.

    The cups we stock contain the highest proportion of recycled content on the market at a minimum of 85% recycled stainless steel.

    Stainless steel is 100% recyclable and is the most recycled material in the world. The quality is maintained throughout recycling too (unlike plastic which is really downcycled).

    These cups have been rigorously tested and meet all British Standards. They're fully CE marked to CE 0126. 

    In terms of hygiene, these steel cups are easy to wash and are dishwasher friendly - unlike laminated plastics which can attract bacteria as it deteriorates and delaminates. Stainless steel is accepted as the one of the most hygienic materials available within the catering industry.

    Common Questions

    I have glasses at home, why can't I use them?

    While using what you already have is always the most sustainable option, when out and about, we would always opt for steel cups.

    "If all plastic bottles used globally were made from glass instead, the additional carbon emissions would be equivalent to 22 large coalfired power plants producing enough electricity for a third of the UK." - Imperial College London

    While this stat suggests plastic is better than glass, it doesn't take into consideration being able to reuse glass and being able to infinitely recycle glass.

    However, glass breaks far more easily than steel. So if you take your glasses out and about to picnics, BBQs, to the pub, to festivals, camping etc. and your glass breaks, how many times would you need to buy more glass in your lifetime?

    Steel on the other hand is very sturdy. They are a cup for life - and when they do need to eventually be recycled, the recycling rate is 80-90% whereas glass is 75%-80% in the UK.

    For outside, on-the-go use, we would always recommend the hardy material of stainless steel.

    Is stainless steel hygienic?

    Yes it is! Stainless steel has very low bacterial retention capacity and is easy to clean. It is widely used across many different industries where hygiene is most important.

    The metal contains no pores, cracks or open spaces for bacteria, including taste and odour to embed itself in, as it is a self contained piece of material.

    These cups are made from Food Grade 304L Stainless Steel.

    Why are they so expensive?

    Our stainless steel cups are manufactured in the UK (in Birmingham) from high quality, recycled stainless steel.

    While we could have sourced cheaper cups from China/India, we wanted to keep the transport miles/carbon footprint lower and support a UK business. These reasons are more important to us.

    We understand these cups may appear expensive when comparing them to plastic or glass cups, but when you consider these are cups for life, are they really expensive?

    Will pubs allow me to take my own cup?

    Reducing waste is becoming a necessity for businesses as consumers are more aware of the impacts than ever before. This means more places are happy to take your own containers/cups than ever before.

    It's been great to see our customers send us pictures of them enjoying a pint in their local pub garden from their steel pint cup.

    Some places are still needing a bit of encouragement, but the more customers that ask, the more likely places will gladly fill your cup with your choice of drink!

    Where do you use your pint cups?

    We take them everywhere really! We've been known to be quite clumsy and have smashed the odd glass, so we even use them around the house.

    Places ticked off the list so far: picnics, BBQs, in the park, at the beach, at a pub

    Places yet to be used: at a festival, on holiday, camping, at a wedding