Tennis player with single-use plastic water bottle

Why it’s time for events to shun big water

Big water brands are producing more plastic thanks to sponsorship deals, but some events are moving away from harmful plastic and towards more sustainable solutions.

Summer is well and truly underway and with it comes a jam-packed calendar of sell-out events. In parks and venues across the country, thousands gather for festivals, street parties and sports, soaking up the rays and enjoying the long evenings. 

However, with the crowds inevitably comes some less favourable consequences; waste, litter, and the opportunity for corporate sponsors to greenwash.

Tennis player holding tennis ball and racket


Recent research by Retail Economics indicated that sponsorship and advertising of plastic bottled water contributes to at least 81 million extra plastic bottles being sold in the UK. If we take the example of Britain’s favourite tennis championships, Wimbledon, who famously works with bottled water giant Evian, features the brand name prominently on the players bottles and in press meetings. Whilst the move to give players reusable bottles this year is a step in the right direction, 400,000 plastic water bottles will still be sold at this year’s Championship alone and therefore, there’s an opportunity to introduce more refill solutions for spectators. Whilst Evian touts its green credentials and sustainability in its advertising, it still churns out millions of single-use plastic bottles every year. We call this ‘sportswashing’. 

Single-use plastic bottles littered on the floor after the London Marathon

London Marathon

This year the London Marathon announced they would be measuring their environmental and social impact, and made a commitment to recycling waste and cutting down emissions. Whilst greater transparency is the right answer, the event was also sponsored by plastic bottle water company Buxton, who are likely to have benefitted from the exposure and will continue to produce even more harmful plastic bottles.

SIngle-use plastic bottles littered on the floor


Looking at other events, the UK is renowned for its thriving festival scene and following many of these, we see photos showing a sea of abandoned tents and a carpet of plastic bottles littering the floor. A study last year found that a whopping 25,800 tonnes of waste is generated at festivals every year in the UK. However, other events leading by example will help to turn the tide on unsustainable event management. This year Glastonbury announced that it would be banning the sale of single-use plastic drinks bottles in an attempt to cut down litter and harm to the local environment. They instead encouraged festival goers to bring reusable water bottles that could be refilled for free at all taps and WaterAid kiosks across the Festival site.

Woman filling up BRITA water filter bottle with tap water


There is a solution to make events more sustainable, and the answer lies in embedding refill behaviours. If sports venues, local councils, festivals and other events invested in refill, the impact of these on the environment could be slashed. BRITA works closely with venues across the country, allowing them to provide great tasting water, without the plastic waste. It’s never been easier to find a refill station either, just download the refill app.

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