MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The beer hasn’t changed, but lately, the cups it is served in look a little different at First Avenue.
The venue is in the midst of a pilot program with r.Cup, a Minneapolis-based company aiming to eliminate single-use plastic cups.
Here’s how it works. When a concertgoer orders a draft beer, they pay a $3 deposit for a branded r.Cup, along with the price of their drink. Throughout the show, they’ll use that same cup for refills.
“At the end of the event, you can turn the cup in and get your $3 back or you can keep the cup,” said r.Cup founder Michael Martin.
The cups are collected by volunteers, cleaned in commercial dishwashers, sterilized and used again.
Michael Martin developed the idea to address the large impact music and sports venues are having on the environment.
“Reuse is way better than single use. The live event industry goes through over five billion single-use cups every year,” Martin said.
The concept was first launched during U2’s Joshua Tree Tour in 2017 and has since expanded to include other festivals, arenas and concert venues.
For now, First Avenue is testing out r.Cup at six shows throughout the month of April.
“We obviously want to make good choices and environmentally-impactful choices, but we also want to make sure it’s not disruptive to the show and that the customers understand the process,” said First Avenue’s marketing director Ashley Ryan.
Once the trial run is over, they’ll decide if they want to make the concept permanent and may expand to serve cocktails and specialty drinks in r.Cups as well.