Plastic drinking cups may soon be a thing of the past — they already are in Selwyn

Cooler cups not cool

by Mike Isle

As New Zealand local bodies are called on to crack down on their use of plastic drinking cups, one council, ours — doesn’t have to worry; it doesn’t have any.

Last year, councils brought close to 120,000 plastic cups, most commonly used with water coolers.

However, the Selwyn District Council wasn’t among them. Our council was among a small minority of councils that brought none at all. By contrast and somewhat ironically, the highest offender was Selwyn’s close neighbour, the Timaru District Council, which purchased 14,600 cups last year.

Official information requests show that most councils are trying to track down on the plastic cups — cups that many see as an environmental problem.

Climate campaigner Budyong Hill praised councils for scrapping plastic cups but reminded councillors there was still work to be done.

“It’s good to start with the small things, but there’s no point patting ourselves on the back for getting rid of plastic cups when there are far bigger things that we have to address and keep in mind,” he said.

Andrew Boyd, Selwyn District Council’s solid waste manager, said the council had made a conscious decision not to use the cups, and alternatives were provided.

“For our headquarters, our kitchen and kitchenettes are fitted with cool and boiling water dispensing taps. Every staff member is issued with a reusable cup with a lid, and there are a large number of mugs available.

“We don’t have stand-alone water coolers with the cup dispensers. When we have meetings or visitors, we have glasses and water jugs available. So really there isn’t a need for the disposable cups,’ he said.