Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 13:00 UK

Pubs warn over plastic pints plan

'Nonic' pint glass
The 'Nonic' glass could be replaced

Plans to replace the traditional pint glass with one made of shatter-proof plastic will not be accepted by drinkers, the pub industry has warned.

The Home Office has commissioned a new design, in an attempt to stop glasses being used as weapons.

Official figures show 5,500 people are attacked with glasses and bottles every year in England and Wales.

The British Beer and Pub Association said it did not want the new plastic glasses to be made compulsory.

Neil Williams from the association said he was concerned that drinkers would notice a drop in quality.

"For the drinker, the pint glass feels better, it has a nice weight and the drink coats the glass nicely. That's why people go out for a drink, to have a nice experience."

He said there was a danger that pubs with no record of trouble would be penalised.

He said: "I would ask, is it necessary to replace the much-loved pint glass for safety reasons in the vast majority of pubs where there is no problem?

We've got to make it desirable, acceptable and cool.
Nick Verebelyi, designer of the new pint pot

"Pubs shouldn't be put under pressure to stop using glasses if they are safe places to drink. Why on earth ask them to do that?

"They shouldn't be corralled into using plastic glasses. Anything that would move us towards a plastic product would not be welcomed."

Red tape

Mr Williams said the industry feared extra costs at a time when many pubs were struggling in the recession: "It would impose another cost on us. Red tape is already coming from all sides."

Nick Verebelyi, the designer in charge of delivering the new pint, said they were looking at two approaches.

"One is to coat the glass with a substance that will make sure the glass doesn't shatter into pieces when it is broken - that could be a plastic material for example.

Dimpled pint glass
The 'Nonic' (no nick) glass, with a strengthened bulge an inch from the rim was invented in 1960
It replaced the dimpled pint glass (pictured above) which was too difficult to stack
Approximately 126 million pints of beer are served a week in the UK

"But it would have to feel like an existing pint glass to the consumer."

Mr Verebelyi said his company, Design Bridge, was also looking at changing the pint altogether.

"We could do something more radical, by looking at the whole shape and substance of the pint - we could come up with something that is completely different to glass.

"Remember that years ago people used to drink out of pewter tankards. It could be quite a significant paradigm shift."

Mr Verebelyi said he accepted that drinkers are attached to the traditional glass pint.

"You make a change and there is often opposition, we've got to make it appealing to them. We've got to make it desirable and acceptable and cool.

"There's going to be quite a push behind this in terms of the Home Office."

The Home Office Minister, Alan Campbell, said the redesign could make a significant difference to the number of revellers who are injured.

He said: "Innovative design has played an important role in driving down overall crime, including theft, fraud and burglary.

"This project will see those same skills applied to the dangerous and costly issue of alcohol-related crime and I am confident that it will lead to similar successes."

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