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Reuse Seattle looks to change the local drinking game for good

The program’s reusable cups can be found at Seattle concert venues and cafes.

Two concert-goers hold up two half-filled plastic r.Cups that say "return to reuse bin"

Glasses like these from r.Cup have replaced pricey souvenir containers at some Seattle venues.

Photo via Reuse Seattle

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the city’s taking it cup a notch to reduce waste. Reuse Seattle is an initiative that encourages businesses to go all-in on reusable containers so there’s less single-use plastic clogging up landfills.

Reusable cups from the program have showed up at events like ZooTunes and Folklife, and they’ll be at Seafood Fest in Ballard, which starts on Friday, July, 14. Moore Theatre, both Showbox locations, and McCaw Hall also stock the cups.

After starting strong in 2022, Reuse Seattle has now gotten Seattle coffee and tea shops on board in 2023 — with its sights set even higher. Let’s look closer at the glass half refilled.

Why use a reusable?

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling, 40% ends up in landfills, and another 32% gets leaked into the oceans. Reuse Seattle’s goal is to address that problem.

The program works by offering a $500 rebate for businesses (whether it’s a cafe or entertainment venue) to make the switch to reusable packaging. Funds can be used for ceramic mugs, tubs for collecting dirty dishes, or costs for services that collect reusable cups and clean them.

Reuse Seattle estimates business can save between $3,000 and $22,000 per year through reusables.

What you can do

More than 20 businesses in the city are part of the program. Some, like the Station in Beacon Hill, let you bring your own mug in. Others offer special reusable cups for free that you can take to-go — just return the cup to a participating location within 14 days to avoid a fee.

Next up for private-public partnership is to get more businesses on board through the $250,000 in its coffers. Reuse Seattle also has its eye on eventually getting into large arenas and stadiums. Climate Pledge — we’re looking at you.