Tens of thousands of disposable coffee cups were rounded up and exchanged for cash at Victory Square in Vancouver on Monday as part of a one-day social and environmental demonstration.

The five-cents-a-cup refund was being offered for one day only, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., as part of a public demonstration dubbed 'The Coffee Cup Revolution' put on by the Binners' Project.

Thousands of cups that came in were used by architecture and design students to create urban-living-themed sculptures during the day. At closing time, all 55,000 disposable cups were packed up and taken to a recycling centre.

The Coffee Cup Revolution - Oct. 6, 2014

Vancouver's Victory Square became a temporary recycling depot on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, as 'binners' redeemed disposable coffee cups for cash. (CBC)

Ken Lyotier, project leader and founder of United We Can, says the event was meant to carry a social message as well as an environmental one, and wasn't specifically meant to address the province's recycling program.

"I don't think we were even saying these should be part of a refund-deposit system. We were just saying, 'What about it? What are we doing?'" Lyotier told the CBC's Andrew Chang.

"We're chopping down half a million trees a year in Canada to provide ourselves with these disposable cups, which we ship out to the dump, and we can't afford to build decent, affordable housing for our very poorest citizens — there's something very off-kilter here."

The coffee cup revolution is organized by the Binners' Project, a national initiative through the JW McConnell Family Foundation with help from the UBC Learning Exchange.

With files from the CBC's Meera Bains