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Updates from Reuse Seattle & r.Cup

Concertgoers at several venues in Seattle now have the opportunity to cut down on plastic pollution when they choose to have their beverage cup washed and reused rather than recycled or thrown away. The central idea behind this effort is to help cut down on single-use plastics which harm the environment and public health. The reusable cup program, which is a public-private partnership between Seattle Public Utilities, its Reuse partners and industry-leading company r.Cup, launched this summer at Woodland Park Zoo’s ZooTunes.   

Single-use packaging negatively impacts our environment and public health. According to Upstream, a third of the world’s plastic packaging (which comprises a significant portion of all single-use packaging) ends up polluting our environment.   

The consumption model of single-use packaging is unsustainable and leads to increased waste and pollution, which further harms our environment and public health. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, globally only 14% of plastic packaging material is collected for recycling, while 40% is landfilled, 32% is leaked into the ocean, and 14% incinerated. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the generation of waste from single-use food service ware only increased with misguided concerns about the risk of transmission and increases in delivery orders. 

With partners like r.Cup, Seattle can offer patrons a more sustainable option when they visit music, sports, and entertainment venues. Eliminating countless single-use and disposable cups, r.Cup’s reuse model brings an end-to-end reusable cup system for large-scale venues and events. Attendees are served the same way they would be with a single-use cup, but instead of recycling cups as they are used, cups are returned to a designated collection bin and then sanitized at a separate facility before being reused. Concert goers will notice the specially designed look for the Seattle reusable cup deemed “City of Music”. This design was a collaborative effort between r.Cup, the entertainment venues, and members of the Seattle Music Commission. 

Reuse Seattle is continue to support the implementation of the r.Cup reusable cup system within entertainment venues around the city this fall. The public can look forward to enjoying their beverages with a side of sustainability at many more locations as additional venues contract with r.Cup, including The Showbox, Showbox SoDo, The Moore, Paramount, and Washington Hall. 

While reusable cups are a great start, Reuse Seattle’s next phase will engage restaurants and cafes, exploring what an open system will look like in terms of digital and collection infrastructure, roles, and policies. They will also explore expanding focus from cups to additional types of service ware and to-go food containers. 

With the shared mission of reducing single-use providing practical solutions that positively impact the food service industry, the planet, and public health, Seattle Public Utilities, Cascadia Consulting Group, and PR3 formed the public-private partnership, Reuse Seattle. Since its inception, it quickly grew to include other key partners like the Washington Environmental Council as well as a growing list of reusable service providers and business partners that are interested in reducing single-use packaging with reusable solutions. 

As part of the effort to promote an inclusive partnership, Reuse Seattle has published a reusable service provider registration form (available online) welcoming and encouraging any business that is interested in bringing their reusable food ware services to Seattle. The registration form, which asks for specifics on the business model and the provider’s vision for coming to Seattle, enables Reuse Seattle to better identify potential partnership opportunities with suitable venues and providers. To learn more, visit .