By Jenna Herrick

There are lots of sights to been seen at Piknik i Parken, otherwise known as PiPfest, in Oslo. Looking around, you’ll spot musical performances, an abundance of food trucks, and children carrying large stacks of empty cups. Wait. What? Yes, dozens of four-foot-tall children walking around with stacks of cups almost as tall as them.

a teen retrieves cups from a trash can at PiPfest.
Elma raced around all evening collecting cups from trash cans at PiPfest and said she earned “a lot of money.” Photo by Jenna herrick

It’s seems a little peculiar to spot young kids searching through trashcans or offering to take empty cups from adults listening to the music. However, they aren’t collecting cups just for fun – they’re in it for the profit. Each cup is worth one kroner, equivalent to $0.12 USD, when turned in for recycling.

Elma, a middle-schooler, is an avid cup collector. “I don’t even watch the performances,” she said. “I was the only one doing it last night and got a lot of money.”

A seven-year cup-collecting veteran, Emma – now a teenager – gathers the cups at PiPFest for her organization, “Nature and Youth”  “We sort the plastic and the cups and then pay the kids when they drop them off,” said Emma. Emma sits in a cup drop-off booth and pays cup collectors when they drop off their haul. At the end of the evening, Emma and other volunteers sort the large pile of plastic, take it to a recycling center and exchange it for cash that funds their group.

an older girl gives money to a young girl
Emma gives money to a young girl in exchange for her cups. Photo by Jenna Herrick

Collecting empty cups is not uncommon in Norway. According to Life in Norway‘s website, anyone can take any empty bottles, cups or cans to redemption machines found in grocery stores to exchange for cash. The website said that, in 2005, an impressive 93% of all recyclable bottles in Norway were returned.

Norway’s admirable recycling process was the topic of a HuffPost article. “The incentivized deposit system for recyclable plastic uses ‘reverse vending machines’ as collection points for used plastic containers, which are then taken to specialized recycling areas,” according to the article. “These machines have been in place since 1972.”

Not only is this a great way to earn some easy cash, but it impacts the environment in  a positive way!