Budweiser Recycled 50,000 Plastic Beer Cups to Make a Soccer Field in Russia

Would-be souvenirs illustrate brewer’s commitment to sustainability

Here's a good use for plastic cups in Russia. Budweiser
Headshot of Mitch Reames

Last summer, one of the world’s greatest sporting events came to a close in Sochi, Russia when French phenom Kylian Mbappé scorched the grass with a goal that put France up 4-1 in the 65th minute of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final. At that moment, cups were raised. The French fans were celebrating a near-certain World Cup victory, while the Croatians lamented the finish of the country’s most magical World Cup run to date.

While their moods were polar opposites, the cups they are drinking from were the same—adorned with unique Budweiser designs, many of the 3.2 million given out during the World Cup were taken home as souvenirs. Yet, many more were recycled at the stadiums, and Budweiser, with help from a World Cup local organizing committee, took 50,000 of those recycled cups and created a field, the Budweiser ReCup, where kids from Sochi could reenact their own Mbappé moments.

In the shadows of the stadium in Sochi, the pitch is a bit smaller than regulation—65 meters by 42 meters—but this field is indicative of the company’s broader sustainability drive. Budweiser has pledged that every bottle of beer it brews by will be powered by renewable energy by 2025. While some of Budweiser’s most memorable Super Bowl spots used a medieval setting to take shots at competitors, the company also used the Big Game to saddle up the signature Clydesdales and ride through a wind farm promoting the brand’s green bona fides.

While the company’s renewable energy goals are the key focus, smaller conservation initiatives like the ReCup Arena help show the brewery is committed to the mission.

The first event on the plastic pitch will be the World Cup REplay. Budweiser will extend an invitation to local Sochi residents. For now, the only game play on the pitch was the unveiling during which former Italian star Marco Materazzi—who was on the receiving end of an infamous headbutt from France’s Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup—helped break in the new field.

“For a month, millions of tourists from all over the world were united by the real football celebration atmosphere,” Materazzi said. “I am very glad that Budweiser, an official sponsor of the tournament, shares the idea of preserving the legacy of the FIFA World Cup and continues to build it up even after the tournament.”

Budweiser has been the official beer sponsor of the World Cup for over 30 years. It had a relationship of similar duration with The Olympics, but that partnership ended in 2017. But activations like the ReCup Arena indicate Budweiser may be here to stay when it comes to the World Cup.

“Hopefully, this pitch will remind us of the past tournament and, probably, will help someone start a promising football career,” said Konstantin Tamirov, marketing director of Anheuser Busch InBev Efes.

Mitch Reames is a freelance writer based in southern Oregon. A 2017 graduate of the University of Oregon school of journalism and communications, Reames covers a wide range of industry topics including creativity, agencies, brands, esports and more.