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Reusable plastic cups win Starter of the Year
Anyone who’s familiar with the Gentse Feesten, Ghent’s big, annual outdoor music and theatre festival, will have noticed a big change in 2018: No plastic cups littering the streets. What was particularly notable was that, without the empty, crumpled beer cups, the amount of litter cleaned up daily by waste management services was reduced by more than one-quarter.
That’s because the organisers of the festival were one of the first customers of Festicup, a Limburg company that has just been named Starter of the Year by employers’ federation Unizo. Festicup provided reusable plastic cups that have the feel of glass but don’t break.
At Gentse Feesten, and other festivals around the country, consumers pay a deposit for the glass when they buy a beverage. The deposit is usually a euro or two, so even if the consumer tosses the cup on the ground, someone else will pick it up and turn it in for the deposit.
But what became quickly clear is that consumers almost always return the glass. It can then be washed on site using Festicup’s mobile washing unit.
Festicup founder Jozef Plevoets started the company two years ago in his grandparents’ garage in Sint-Truiden. Now he has his own warehouse in Zonhoven, north of Hasselt.
“All of the pretty green fields that festivals take place in are covered in plastic cups following the festival,” Plevoets told VRT. “I wanted to do something about that, and that’s how I came up with the idea of bringing Festicup to the market.”
Organisations can buy the cups, which comes in dozens of styles for beer, wine, cocktails and shots, or they can rent them for a one-off event. The glasses are made in the Netherlands, from a material that is difficult to break and can last for years. Festicup also sells compostable paper cups for hot beverages, as well as compostable straws.
It was Festicup’s contribution to a circular economy in combination with a profitable business model that convinced Unizo to award Start of the Year to the company. “Our economy is in need of fresh blood, young starters with creative ideas who really want to go for it,” said Unizo CEO Danny Van Assche.
The company has certainly made an impression on policymakers. Starting next year, disposable plastic cups will be illegal to use at festivals and other events in Belgium.