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Foto: Sija van den Beukel

Will the UvA switch to the Billie Cup? ‘Disposable cups are also convenient’

Sija van den Beukel,
2 maart 2022 - 15:07

Every month 120,000 paper coffee cups are thrown away at the UvA. According to the Green Office, A UvA department that wants to make the university more sustainable, it's time for the Billie Cup: a reusable cup that works with a deposit. Yesterday, employees launched the mug at Eetcafé Oerknal at the Science Park.

The UvA needs to become more sustainable, thinks not only the Green Office, the student platform for sustainability, but also the UvA itself wants to reduce its ecological footprint by 25 percent within five years. One of the pillars is ‘reducing paper consumption and banning unnecessary waste’. Yet for a year now the Green Office has had to lobby for an alternative to paper coffee cups in canteens at the UvA. Yesterday, the first step was finally taken with the introduction of the Billie Cup in Eetcafé Oerknal of the University Sports Center.


Billie Cup is an initiative from Brussels that falls under a European sustainability project. The Cup, which is designed and produced in France, is a returnable coffee cup that works with a deposit. The cup is not only for coffee and tea, but also soup, smoothies and ice cream. The cup is popular in Belgium that is also starting to make its appearance in the Netherlands. At Wageningen University, the most sustainable university in the world, the cup is already in full use. 

Ivan Muso

The coffee cups are only a small step in the greening of the UvA. Even when all paper coffee cups disappear at the UvA, only one percent of the total waste produced by the UvA has been reduced. ‘That's the narrative of the UvA,’ says campus team leader of the Green Office Ivan Muso, ‘My logic is, if we can't already solve these small problems, how do we tackle the big ones? This is something that can just be organized.’


The system will only really flourish if more cafes join in, Muso adds. ‘Then you can take your cup and return it to another café.’ That is why his committee wants to introduce the Billie Cup at several locations at the UvA and also in cafés in the neighborhood. Then you will no longer have to bring your own coffee cup as the only solution for a sustainable cup of coffee outside. Muso: ‘Even the most sustainable people sometimes forget their cup. With the Billie Cup you can still get coffee.’


Pilot Oudemanshuispoort
At the end of January the Green Office wrote a proposal to the UvA to introduce the Billie Cup as a pilot in the canteen of the Oudemanshuispoort. The UvA takes the proposal in consideration, but wants to compare different providers of similar systems. Muso: ‘I think that once the UvA has tried the Billie Cup in one place they won't want to go back.’

‘In 2023 the government want us to get rid of the paper cups anyway, so we'd better start right away.’
Foto: Sija van den Beukel
Ton de Beurs

Protein shakes
For the time being, University Sports Centre’s Eetcafé Oerknal of the is the first café to go with the Billie Cup. The café already had sustainability high on its agenda, says manager Tom de Beurs. It started with doing away with paper cups in the staff room for the sports centre’s employees and selling organic coffee and tea. Now takeaway coffee and protein shakes are also sold in the Billie Cup. De Beurs: ‘In 2023 the government want us to get rid of the paper cups anyway, so we'd better start right away.’


De Beurs does not understand why the UvA has not yet fully embraced the idea. ‘Perhaps it is the cost; there is an annual you have to pay to use Billie cups, which the Green Office paid for us. Besides that, disposable cups are also just convenient.’ De Beurs hopes many cafes and canteens will follow suit. ‘The Crea Café could do it too. I would definitely recommend it.’


Green Offices at other universities are also showing interest. Muso: ‘Delft and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam were interested in our proposal, and Tilburg and Eindhoven are already implementing the cups at the university.’