Danish city tackles single-use trash with first-of-its-kind deposit scheme

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. scheme / skim / (n.) – a plan or system designed to achieve a particular goal or purpose

    The government implemented a scheme to promote renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions.

  2. thereby / ˌðɛərˈbaɪ / (adv.) – as a result of the action or situation mentioned

    Regular exercise strengthens the immune system, thereby reducing the risk of illnesses.

  3. dot / dɒt / (v.) – to spread across an area

    Streetlights have been dotted along the road to ensure safe driving at night.

  4. washable / ˈwɒʃ ə bəl / (adj.) – relating to a material that can be washed without being damaged or losing its quality

    Choosing washable diapers for our baby is our way of caring for the environment.

  5. reuse / riˈjuz / (n.) – the act of using something again instead of throwing it away

    The city’s waste management program promotes the reuse of items through community recycling centers.


Read the text below.

At a café in the Danish city Aarhus, the coffee is to be kept, but the cup? Well, you’ll have to give that back.

Authorities in Denmark’s second-largest city are trialing a new deposit scheme, where it’s possible to drink your coffee on-the-go, without the to-go cup turning into waste just minutes later.

“When you buy your coffee, you get the possibilities to buy a reusable cup. Then you pay five kroner,” explains Go’ Kaffe manager, Martin Agger. “When you have (drank) your coffee, you can leave it in one of the deposit boxes and get your money back.”

“Hopefully we are removing loads of cups from the nature, and thereby helping the environment,” adds Agger.

Aarhus, home to about 330,000 people, is thought to be the first city in the world to establish a system of deposit machines for takeaway cups. Around 25 of these automated machines have been dotted across its city center.

Each cup has a deposit of five Danish kroner (approx. 73 U.S. cents), which is automatically refunded to a person’s card after they’ve returned their cup to one of the machines.

Nicolaj Bang, a local councilor for the municipality, says it’s to tackle the single-use trash piling up on city streets. “Last year, we did a cleaning of the river that runs through the city, and we picked up 100,000 glasses. So, it is an issue.”

For now, it’s just a three-year trial, but Bang says, if successful, the scheme could be extended to plates, pizza boxes, and more.

Once returned, the washable to-go cups are collected and transported to this cleaning facility, run by the recycling firm TOMRA. Cups are cleaned and inspected for any damage. About 40,000 reusable to-go cups have been produced so far.

Aarhus Municipality project manager Simon Rossau says scale is essential for the project to succeed. “Reuse is, as it is now, reuse is more expensive than single use. So, we are kind of simulating a future where we’ve had some legislation that helps the reuse agenda to actually flourish.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Do you believe the deposit scheme for to-go cups in Aarhus is an effective solution to reduce waste? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Do you think this scheme will also be effective in your country? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • In your opinion, what other single-use items could benefit from a deposit scheme to encourage reuse (ex. straws, fast food containers)? How would such a scheme affect consumer habits? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, can programs like this change how businesses think about being eco-friendly and reducing waste? How might it make cafés and restaurants more responsible for the environment? Discuss.