Are reusable cups more ecological than disposable cups?
The answer: Yes! They are. Reusable cups naturally also have an ecological footprint: water is needed to wash them, the cups need to be produced and transported, and someday they become so worn out that they end up with the waste. However, because you can re-use your reusable cups dozens of times, it does win over disposable cups that you only use once. And yes, also it wins over disposable cups that are recycled. This was recently demonstrated again in a comprehensive study commissioned by OVAM (Openbare Vlaamse Afvalmaatschappij, the Public Waste Agency of Flanders). This is a meta-study (a study based on the results of a number of former studies) of scientifically conducted LCA studies (LCA stands for Life Cycle Analysis, mapping the entire cycle of an object, in this case a cup).
Want to know more?
You can find more about OVAM's study, a guide for organizers and a practical tool to help you choose cups and other eating utensils here.
For the purchase or rental of reusable cups you can go to these sustainable companies
Ecofest - Specialized in advice for making events sustainable, and therefore expert in working with reusable cups (setting up the ideal circuit of cups, minimizing dropouts, etc.)
Ecocup - Specialized in renting reusable cups for small to (very) large events, including washing-up service
Festicup - Specialized in selling and renting beautiful tritan or polycarbonate cups that look like real glasses. They also rent mobile dishwashers. (in Belgium)
Goodless - Specialized in the sale and rental of cups, including dishwashing service. Inventors of the SmartCup
Wakecup - Specialized in the sale and rental of tritan, polycarbonate and polypropylene cups in various forms, including washing service
What should you definitely keep in mind when you use reusable cups at your event?
Always ask yourself whether you cannot simply use glass at your event. If used for a sufficiently long time, glasses are still more durable than any plastic cup. Therefore only use cups for safety reasons.
Reusable cups are only sustainable if you effectively use them time and again. It is therefore important to organize the washing up of the cups in a sustainable way. Use as little water, energy and detergent as possible. And avoid excessive transport of the cups.
To prevent your reusable cups from falling on the floor or disappearing, it is usually advisable to use a deposit system. Make it as simple as possible. Make sure people are not sent from the cupboard to the wall, and make sure people can hand in their cups and order a new drink at the same place.
When your visitors have questions about the how and why of reusable cups and about the guarantee system, they will contact your staff. Make sure that all your employees are well informed about the way you work. If necessary, give your employees a list of frequently asked questions (and answers) in advance.
Ensure good communication about the guarantee system, even before the event, through your website, tickets, etc. Communicate the guarantee scheme as simply as possible during the actual event, preferably on the price lists for your drinks.
Avoid a mixed system of reusable and disposable cups.
Try to pour all drinks in reusable cups. That makes it much easier for both your employees and your visitors.
Last but not least: the introduction of reusable cups at an event where people are used to working with disposable cups is a change that will affect nearly everyone at your festival. Not only your audience and your bar staff, but also the person responsible for your financial agreements, your accountant, the production and safety people and the communication staff. Prepare this change well in advance and involve all employees of your festival.
These festivals and venues have been using reusable cups for years
Ancienne Belgique - Brussels (B) The most famous concert hall in the country Boomtown Festival - Gent (B) The greenest festival of Ghent Festivities Best Kept Secret - Hilvarenbeek (NL)) The festival that manages to combine big names with a lot of fun, atmosphere and sustainability Paradise City - Perk (B) An enchanting festival in a green castle domain.