Live Nation bets millions on high-tech reusable cups to fight plastic waste

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Imagine the aftermath of a festival: a sea of ​​fans leaves, leaving behind a number of empty water bottles, disposable cups, wristbands, lost IDs and maybe even some used up whipped cream chargers.

For all the environment lip service we hear from megastars, the environmental footprint of live entertainment has only recently receive the attention it deserved. Trash is just one piece of that puzzle and is currently in the Live Nation spotlight as the event giant pumps in $5 million Turn systems.

Turn wants to help venues do away with single-use cups, and so far a series of trials has shown the system works, Live Nation claims. For locations, Turn supplies reusable cups and drip trays, and operates its own dishwashers, which the company says are “700% faster than traditional dishwashers.” For fans, the reusable cups do not ask for a deposit and are handed out as standard. Once their drink is finished, a scannable code at the bottom of the cup opens a slot at the top of a beautiful, custom-made collection bin.

For many people, that’s all they’ll see, but as an added incentive to return, fans can also sign up through an app to enter giveaways for things like free merchandise and “VIP upgrades,” says Lucy August, director of sustainability at Live Nation. Perna in conversation with Behind the scenes, the San Francisco-based Turn software keeps track of how many cups make it back into the system, and the company shares that data with locations.

Live Nation says it has tried the technology at several events this year, including Lollapalooza, with a 93% return. It’s not always that high; at the Sueños music festival in Chicago, fans returned only 58% of the cups. “We have piloted” [Turn] now on various stages and at major festivals and hoped we would get the results we achieved,” said August-Perna. Overall, “we have seen a return rate of over 90% of cups,” she added.

While there is no data on their precise global toll, it is clear that single-use cups are harmful to the environment. In the UK, the 2 billion or so disposable cups that end up in landfills each year yield more than 152,000 tons of carbon dioxide, by 2020 Guardian analysis — that’s about as much CO2 as 33,000 petrol-powered passenger cars emit annually. The rest of the world is consuming far more disposable cups. Starbucks only burns through what 7 billion disposable cups per year (about half of the coffee brands 34,000 stores are located in the US).

Plastic and paper cups (which are typical) plastic coated) to be rarely recycledand bioplastics can be supplied with their own environmental problems. In comparison, reusable cups are: better for the climate – as long as they are repeatedly used.

Live Nation said in a statement it aims to “replace more than 1 million disposable cups this year” as part of its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Seeking other ways to eliminate plastic, the event promoter and ticketing company has also partnered with canned water company Liquid Death, which grossed $75 million in growth earlier this year.

Turn’s other backers include Anheuser-Busch owner AB InBev, Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures and Bjarke Ingels Group, a major architectural firm.

Other companies that have leaned on technology to boost reusable cups include the UK chain Costa coffee, r.Cup and cinder.

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