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Reusable cups still elude major Belgian music festivals

14:07 09/06/2023

Organisers of three major music festivals in Belgium this summer have asked to be made exempt from new Europe-wide regulations on single-use plastic.

Under European Union packaging rules, drinks should only be served in reusable cups, PET bottles and cans at festivals. This stricter legislation targeting single-use plastics should apply to some 1,700 events in Belgium.

Already on 27-28 May, Brussels' CORE Festival in Osseghem Park offered most attendees reusable cups. Couleur Café, at the same venue on 23-25 June, has adopted this system in full – albeit at a cost of €50,000 and 70 volunteers, festival spokesperson Dennis Corbesier said.

However, organisers of Graspop Metal (15-18 June, Dessel), Rock Werchter (29 June to 2 July, near Leuven) and Tomorrowland (21-30 July, Boom), have asked Flemish environment minister Zuhal Demir to be exempted from this rule, so people attending these festivals will still drink from disposable cups.

“We want to create a positive impact on the environment, but we understand if it is not possible to work with reusable cups,” Demir’s spokesperson Andy Pieters said.

To continue using disposable cups, the organisers must be able to show why they cannot comply with the new regulations - for example if they cannot supply or wash the cups quickly enough, Pieters said.

“You have to consider public health, which is why the cups must be completely dry after washing. Otherwise, bacteria can spread.”

Tomorrowland is working with reusable cups at its campsite but not the festival.

“We have 200,000 visitors per weekend and cannot supply, wash and stock that volume of cups," spokeswoman Debby Willemsen explained. "The bars are not prepared for that either."

She added that with no place at the venue to manage them, Tomorrowland would have to transport them off-site. This would be neither ecological, nor good for the neighbourhood and the festival still had a huge stock from last year.

Rock Werchter promises it will use reusable cups next year. “We definitely want to follow this legislation,” event organiser Live Nation spokesperson Nele Bigaré said, noting that suppliers and cleaning companies were making much progress in this area.

And while the main four-day event will stick to disposable cups, the brand’s Werchter Boutique and TW Classic day festivals will use reusable ones this year for the first time.

Indeed, 2023 will be “a year of transition”, Demir’s spokesperson made clear, emphasising that exceptions to the rule will soon disappear.

Disposable cups are already nearly all ‘rPET’ (recycled PET) as they are made from recycled materials and collected after use.

Written by Liz Newmark



Perhaps the organisers should have a look how they do at the Oktoberfest, the beer festival in October in Munich: they serve in reusable cups (glass!) for far more visitors …

Jun 12, 2023 08:19