TCD Plastic Solutions has circulated a petition calling for the implementation of a reusable cup deposit and return scheme at this year’s Trinity Ball, which they say “will prevent the annual production of thousands of single-use plastic cups for just one night”.
In their petition statement, the group argued: “A reusable cup deposit scheme is the most effective way to reduce plastic waste at Trinity Ball, which is an annual event and has over 7,000 attendees. Therefore, if each ticket holder purchases three drinks during the night, it amounts to about 21,000 single-use plastic cups which break down to microplastics over hundreds of years, further polluting our environment.” They pointed to the cup deposit scheme used at Glastonbury Festival.
The group said that they “won’t settle for short term solutions” such as compostable cups or waste segregation, although said that “these are excellent first steps”.
The campaign group have discussed a plastic free Trinity Ball with Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Ents Officer Judith Robinson and TCDSU Environmental Officer Ruby Barrett, as well as with MCD Productions, the company largely responsible for organising the annual Trinity Ball. Robinson told Trinity News that she and Barrett believe the petition is a “very good step in making Trinity Ball plastic free”.
“I am working closely with MCD this year and I am in discussions with them about how we can make this possible,” she said. “I think it is very important that we strive to make Trinity Ball plastic free. There are a lot of logistical and financial obstacles but we are doing everything in our power to try and overcome them, and hopefully this goal will be achieved.”
A spokesperson for TCD Plastic Solutions told Trinity News: “The SU is very supportive and have great ideas, just a matter of getting MCD on board.”
Discussions for turning Trinity Ball plastic free began last September. The then-manager of TCD Plastic Solutions Caitríona de Búrca suggested the introduction of a cup deposit scheme at an open meeting, saying that event organisers were unlikely have enough reusable cups on time for the ball later that year.
Former TCDSU Ents Officer David Flood told Trinity News that he was in discussion with the group during his term and “absolutely supports” their cause. He said that issues had been raised with the cup deposit scheme, however, namely that hard plastic and glass at the concert could be a safety hazard. In 2019, the ball featured improved waste segregation and compostable food packaging.
In late 2017, TCD Plastic Solutions successfully launched the #PlasticFreeTCD movement. The group gathered almost 4,000 signatures on a petition calling for the elimination of single use plastics on campus. After one year, the group’s work lead to College committing to replace or eliminate disposable plastics, and to phase out disposable plastic containers and utensils on campus by 2020.
Plastic Solutions TCD said that while their campaign was successful, “we need systematic change to help the College fully implement it, so please add your voice to our movement, we need to make real change happen now”.