Aarhus Reusable Cup, Source: City of Aarhus

The Aarhus reusable cups system: A role model for the world?

The Aarhus reusable cups system: A role model for the world?

Estimates show that the Danish city has avoided the equivalent of about 3000 waste bins filled with disposable cups

At the start of this year (17 January), the City of Aarhus implemented a reusable cup system locally with 53 establishments participating in it. As a result, since then, 300,000 orders have been placed using the to-go cups, which resulted in such enormous waste reduction that other cities around the world have started paying attention to the outcome of this initiative in the Danish city.

The system is simple and involves paying a deposit (of less than a euro) that can be redeemed by returning the reusable cup or mug to one of the 27 Reusable deposit machines throughout the city.

“Every time we choose to recycle rather than produce new, we save on the earth's resources and the amount of waste. It may well be that you don't buy to-go coffee very often. But even small actions and choices help make a difference. Every cup counts," says Nicolaj Bang, councillor for Technology and Environment.

Indeed, it counts According to estimates the 300,000 pledged cups by the various establishments’ customers are the equivalent of 3,000 waste bins filled with disposable cups in terms of savings.

That means reducing half of the city’s waste!

It’s only when you read that fact above that you realize the impact on waste generation that takeaway packaging has in the urban landscape.

And the system works. It enjoys the commitment from residents, despite the small deposit fee. In a waste analysis of two tonnes of waste collected from the city's trash bins during Whitsun on 18–20 May, only four reusable cups have been found.

The attempt to establish a circular system that can handle takeaway packaging in Aarhus is a few steps ahead of European legislation on extended producer responsibility in 2025 (the SUPD directive) and the packaging regulation (PPWR). It also supports the Danish national objective of a 50% reduction of certain plastic takeaway packaging by 2026.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU