AEG sought to replace all biodegradable PLA disposable cups at its German venues and was looking for a reliable re-usable cup system that fit their multipurpose setup. In the past, contracted reusable cup systems had struggled to meet the need due to quick declines in the cup quality after few uses, as well unsustainable transportation logistics.
In February 2023, AEG together with its catering partner, Levy Restaurants, introduced an on-site cup washing system that enabled cups used at its venues in Germany – Mercedes-Benz Arena and Verti Music Hall in Berlin and Barclays Arena in Hamburg -- to be washed in house in Berlin and Hamburg. To facilitate the on-site washing program, the company commissioned Meiko, one of the leaders in rinsing technology in Germany, to set up energy efficient cup washing machines in the arenas that can rinse up to 5,300 cups an hour. The Meiko system uses a cup called, the Ökocup, which is produced in Berlin from controlled raw materials using carbon neutral logistics partners and reduced packaging material. The Ökocup is very durable and can sustain approximately 600 washings.
At the end of their useful life, the Ökocup cups are recycled and processed into granulate which is then used to produce approximately 90% of new cups. The remaining 10% of the granulate which is unusable in the cup process is used to produce other products such as flowerpots. To ensure reuse of the cups at its events, the venues charge attendees a deposit that is returned to them upon collection of the cup. However, should a fan wish to donate the cup deposit, the proceeds from the deposit help to fund AEG ESG initiative in Germany, FAME FOREST, which plants trees in the country.
Since launching the system in February 2023:
- Diverted 1.1 million singles use cups from trash in the first five month of operation.
- Reduced its carbon footprint by eliminating all transportation related to external washing facilities.
Through this program, AEG expects to eliminate 90 million tons of trash annually in Germany and has received interest from other Germany venue operators about using the Ökocup system.