The new deposit scheme, being trialled in Aarhus, makes it possible to reuse your take away coffee cup.
Denmark’s second-largest city is trialling a first-of-its-kind deposit scheme to tackle single-use trash like coffee cups.
If successful, the scheme could be extended to plates, pizza boxes and more throughout the east coast city of Aarhus.
“When you buy your coffee, you can buy a reusable cup. Then you pay five kroner,” explains Go’ Kaffe manager, Martin Agger.
“When you’ve drunk your coffee, you can leave it in one of the deposit boxes and get your money back.”
“Hopefully we are removing loads of cups from nature, thereby helping the environment,” adds Agger.
Aarhus, home to about 330,000 people, is thought to be the first city in the world to establish a system of deposit machines for takeaway cups.
Around 25 of these automated machines have been dotted across its city centre.
It’s building on a successful nationwide deposit return scheme for cans and bottles that came into effect in 2002.
Each cup has a deposit of five Danish kroner (or €0.67), which is automatically refunded to a person’s bank card after they’ve returned their cup to one of the machines.
Local councillor, Nicolaj Bang hopes it will help tackle the single-use trash piling up on city streets:
“Last year, we cleaned the river that runs through the city, and we picked up 100 thousand glasses. So, it is an issue.”
“(On) Saturday morning, the city looks like trash. So, this will significantly impact microplastic, but also how the city looks.”
For now, it’s just a three-year trial, but Bang says if the scheme is successful it could be extended to plates, pizza boxes and more.
“This can be expanded to all kinds of takeaway,” he says. “It can be pretty much used for anything that will go into a trash can.”
The scheme is voluntary for the city’s bars and cafés, over 40 destinations have signed up, including La Cabra, which also has locations in the United States, Thailand and Oman.
“All of us, we want to have some kind of impact on the amount of trash that’s lying around and especially us coffee shops,” says La Cabra general manager, Joe Hougaard.
Once returned, the washable ‘to-go’ cups are collected and transported to a cleaning facility, run by the recycling firm TOMRA, where they are cleaned and inspected for damage.
About 40,000 reusable ‘to-go’ cups have been produced so far.
Aarhus Municipality project manager Simon Rossau says scale is essential for the project to succeed.
“Reuse is more expensive than single use. So, we are simulating a future where we’ve had some legislation that helps the reuse agenda to actually flourish.”
“I think it’s very important that we do circular things, reuse things,” says Aarhus resident Trine Wilkens.
“I think that people should get used to having to take care and we have to move ourselves to these machines or to the trash bin,” adds Aarhus resident Signe Sojberg Hojlt.