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06 | 2010

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Cover-Story At rock

Cover-Story At rock concerts, festivals, and sporting events in the Netherlands, events management firm Loc 7000 has a deal for visitors. If they collect ten Ingeo PLA bioplastic ‘Smart’ cups they will get a free beer or soft drink. The Smart cups and free drink offer are important elements of Loc 7000’s sustainability initiative. Loc 7000 provides general management, catering, and tokens services for event organizers. (Tokens are used at some Loc 7000 managed events rather than money at concession stands.) Several years ago, a governmental agency proposed that events firms begin using hard plastic reusable cups rather than paper or plastic in order to reduce waste. “Reducing waste is the right thing to do, but hard plastic cups posed a number of problems,” says Maarten van Lokven, manager of projects and events at Loc 7000. “The cups were expensive. Reusing the cups, even after washing them, opened the door to potential health problems. Hard plastic cups posed safety risks most notably from people tripping, falling, or rowdies throwing them.” Recycle PLA Cups at U2-Concerts Loc 7000 began investigating the use of PLA cups, specifically Ingeo cups being manufactured by Huhtamaki. Working with Huhtamaki and the Grolsch Brewery, Loc 7000 helped to design the 0.25 liter Smart cup. The cup is easily labeled with the logos of event sponsors, something that simply could not be done with the hard plastics cups. Most importantly, the cups did not have to be sent to landfills. There are several end-of-life options for PLA. The most appealing of these for relatively clean beer or soft drink cups was the LOOPLA process by Galactic in nearby Belgium. LOOPLA is a feedstock recovery process in which PLA-based items are reduced to the monomer lactic acid through hydrolysis and reused in a host of ways. (See articles on previous page and in bM 05/2009). Loc 7000 wanted to do more than put Smart cups into the hands of its guests; the firm wanted to ensure that the cups had a high probability of being collected for the LOOPLA process. So Loc 7000 implemented the policy that any one who collects ten of the Smart cups receives tokens for the purchase of beer or soft drink of their choice. Special collection stations are set up around the venue. Van Lokven says that Loc 7000 collects between 70 and 80% of the cups distributed at each event. With 6 million cups a year used at its managed events, the amount of collected material is substantial. “We believe you have to give people a reason to recycle and while there is a cost to collecting the cups the advantages are worth it in terms of less waste and a cleaner venue,” van Lokven said. Loc 7000 is now investigating a similar system for Ingeo food service ware items such as plates, utensils, and trays. With more than 40 individual items the complexity is greater, but van Lokven believes those problems are not insurmountable. Based on the success Loc 7000 is having, event goers should drink up and recycle — it’s the Smart thing to do. MT www.loc7000.nl You can watch a videoclip about a beerfestival and LOOPLA PLA recycling at www.bioplasticsmagazine.com/201006a 18 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/10] Vol. 6

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