Circular Economy Recycling at Applepop: The Rubbish Project

At Appelpop Festival (2022) in the Netherlands, cups were used in a new way, a circular / closed loop system was deployed that was better for the environment, reduced waste, and increased the customer experience!

A Circular / Closed Loop System – It sounds great, but what does that mean?

A closed loop journey is one that ends where it started, and cup to cup recycling does just that. So in this case it means they used disposable cups made from recycled material that were then captured after use and will be recycled back into new cups which can be used again.

The Rubbish Project helped set this up, working with their partner Huhtamaki (packaging company) who also sponsored the event providing the cups and more to support this project. Appelpop was a great event, and if you are considering going next year, they highly recommend that you do, especially now they have this cool environmentally friendly recycling system in place.

The Rubbish Project have helped quite a few events, venues and businesses this summer, but they haven’t managed to film all of these. Fortunately, and again with Huhtamaki’s help, they have created this video demonstrating how it all worked at Appelpop, so enjoy!


1. The cups are produced by Huhtamaki. All cups are made from rPET (recycled PET plastic)

2. Appelpop employs a new cup collection system with The Rubbish Project’s guidance where consumers return used cups to the bars for recycling and to avoid a new cup charge. This helps capture the cups for recycling as a clean waste stream

3. The compactor of used cups is collected and the contents processed ready for recycling. The waste steam is mostly clean from contamination thanks to the collection/capture system

4. The processed material (bales of cups) is turned into rPET pellets and then resupplied to Huhtamaki who turn the pellets into sheets and then thermoform new cups. This closes the loop and completes the process.


1. Making cups from recycled material consumes ‘waste’ materials and reduces demand on virgin resources. This stops the environmental damage done by new resource extraction, uses less energy, reduces carbon emissions, and reduces waste pollution.

2. Disposable cups are lightweight and therefore low energy to create, and rPET cups can be made back into cups. So if used in a system where as many as possible are captured and recycled then you get a very low energy per use. Low energy per use equals low carbon and cost per use.

3. The capture / return system used at the event helped to reduce waste and environmental pollution and create a clean stream of material that can easily be recycled at high quality back into the same product.

4. The world has finite resources, which means there is only so much metal, oil, etc, we can mine and extract before it’s all gone. So the world cannot keep consuming materials in a linear system that ends in waste and pollution.

The circular recycling system at Appelpop is an example to the world of the change we need to make. Every product and piece of packaging should be used in a closed loop system. This is the only way humanity can sustainably consume resources and live in harmony with nature.

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