Thursday evening at 6PM, Place du Luxembourg, Brussels. This iconic square in front of the European Parliament is the place to be for many of the EU officials and bureaucrats for an after work drink. Unfortunately, all the beverages served outdoors come in single-use plastic cups. The result? 75+ trash bags full of plastic waste on Friday morning after each night of unsustainable fun.
The Plastic-free Plux Initiative strives to reduce single-use plastic at Place du Luxembourg and create awareness about plastic pollution. What once started as a facebook page run by a number of concerned trainees at the European Commission, Plastic-free Plux has grown out to a fixed value on the square. Under the leadership of local CKAA alumni Adrian and Elias, the initiative was leveled up from an awareness raising campaign to a reusable cup deposit scheme, with the financial support of CKAA.
Since the introduction of the reusable cups in the second half of July, about a 100 reusable goblets are rented out every Thursday night, saving about 300 single-use cups each time.
For the Plux team, this is only the start. They are working on a permanent solution together with the bar owners and the different breweries supplying the bars, who currently give away their own single-use cups for free as a form of marketing. To make Place du Luxembourg completely single-use plastic free, the team is figuring out a model that works for all stakeholders. Once they crack the case, the model will be replicable throughout the rest of the city.
The initiative did not stay unnoticed. Several high-placed EU officials expressed their support and some of them dropped by to share a drink, such as the Director-Generals of DG Environment and DG MARE. The Plux team succeeded in getting them in front of the camera for a small interview, which you find back at their facebook page. Since plastic pollution is also a hot topic in the public debate in Belgium, local media featured the project in the BRUZZ magazine and on BRUZZ radio and POLITICO.
Local leaders Adrian and Elias look back at a successful summer and are eager to take the next leap: closing a deal with one of the breweries to sponsor a large batch of cups that will make the single-use version obsolete. Nelson Mandela once said: “everything seems impossible, until it’s done.” and they are keen to prove him right.