Innovation That Matters

Waste recycle

Pop-up café uses plastic waste as payment


An environmentally friendly cleaning brand has opened a pop-up to challenge customers to rethink the value of plastic waste.


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We have previously seen innovative pop-ups such as a travelling pop-up shop from the US and a UK based travel company that lets customers design their own luxury pop-up hotel. As well as selling products and services, temporary pop-up’s can serve to educate and inspire an audience. The Rubbish Café in Covent Garden, London lets customers exchange their plastic waste for food. Through this unusual form of payment, the pop-up intended to identify how wasteful single-use plastics are.

In exchange for their recyclable plastic waste, customers at the pop-up ordered food from a zero-waste menu. Designed by Chef Tom Hunt, the menu featured options such as banana bread with wonky fruit, grain and rice bowls. Max McMurdo, expert in upcycling and eco-design, helped create the venue to inspire visitors to reduce their use of plastic. The trading of plastics for food encouraged customers to rethink the importance of sustainability and the value of waste. Along with food, visitors were also given a reusable detergent bottle made by Ecover. In addition, Over Under provided coffee.

The pop-up was created by Ecover, a Belgian company that makes cleaning products. They have a strong emphasis on clean lifestyles which they demonstrate throughout their business. The company states, “The Rubbish Café is part of our Clean World Revolution”. By 2020, Ecover plans to only use plastics that are 100 percent recyclable to make their products. Moreover, they aim to trial different materials that do not rely on plastic. For example, they will be testing alternative bio-sourced and biodegradable packaging. What other causes can pop-up’s draw attention to? In what other creative ways can businesses educate the public about sustainability?




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