7 minutes

The amendment of the Packaging Act - opportunities for reusable systems after the ban on single-use plastics

Coffee-to-go, fried noodles, salad bowls, delicious burgers - it's convenient, it's easy and it's available everywhere - takeaway food in a practical (polystyrene) box. But the drink is quickly drunk, the food eaten and the packaging thrown away. Many restaurateurs are increasingly using plastic disposable packaging in the Corona pandemic, as more and more food is consumed away from home or delivered to the home. According to a WWF study, plastics release microscopic particles into food, causing people to consume an average of 5 grams of microplastics per week. Figures from the Federal Environment Agency show that packaging waste per capita has risen steadily since 2010. In 2018, this figure totalled 18.9 million tonnes. Unfortunately, the Corona crisis has further intensified this negative trend.

But from 03.07.21 the EU-wide single-use plastic ban comes into force - many products made of single-use plastic will be banned. Drinking straws, stirrers, disposable dishes, to-go cups and disposable containers made of polystyrene (known as Styrofoam) will no longer be produced and marketed in the EU. Disposable plates, cups or cutlery made of so-called biodegradable plastics, as well as disposable cardboard tableware coated with plastic, may also no longer be used.

Drinking straws, disposable crockery and cutlery, to-go cups, fast food packaging are banned from 3.7.21

In our last blog post, we looked at different solutions for coffee-to-go deposit systems. In this article, we now present further alternatives to make businesses plastic-free. With the new draft law that will affect restaurateurs, catering businesses (and delivery services) will have to offer reusable alternatives for to-go products from 2023. An exception applies to smaller shops with up to 80m² of sales area and a maximum of 5 employees. There, however, customers can have their own reusable containers filled. 

One way to reduce plastic waste in system catering is to use reusable tableware. For all companies that offer not only drinks to-go but also take-away food, the following companies provide reusable solutions:

The digital returnable system Vytal requires no deposit handling and no extra integration into the existing IT system.

The Vytal reusable system for take-away, delivery and convenience food offers solutions for deposit-free food and beverage takeaway for canteen guests. Canteens are provided with reusable containers, marketing material for customer information, and a device with access to the partner app. 

  • available sizes: up to 300 ml for cups / 500, 750, 1,000 and 1,250 ml with viewing window (*additionally on offer: reusable packaging for sushi and pizza) / one tray with partition (1,000 ml)
  • no minimum contract period
  • One-off entry fee of € 100.00 net (reduction or omission in the case of regional campaigns)
  • Usage fee: 15 to 20 ct net per bowl
  • Minimum circulation time is at least 200x

A long-term alternative to disposable packaging in system catering is also offered by the company Relevo. The solution is not associated with any additional costs (pay-per-use principle) and can be integrated into existing canteen processes without any intervention. 

  • available sizes: 300 and 400 ml for cups / 800 and 1,100 ml for bowls (expansion in planning)
  • no minimum contract period
  • Usage fee: 20 ct net for bowls, 10 ct net for cups
  • Test phase: 4 weeks without costs
  • Minimum circulation time is at least 1000x

REBOWL is also a system with two solutions (Recup for to-go drinks and Rebowl for take-aways). One bowl replaces 200 disposable containers, and the reusable solution is cheaper from the 4th meal served. App registration is not necessary, lending is done for a deposit. 

  • 1,250 ml bowl with viewing window (extension in planning)
  • different contract periods - 3, 6, 12, 24, 36 months (with different notice periods)
  • Amount of the system contribution varies (for 1 year: € 31.00 net per month)
  • Test phase: 3 months free of charge
  • Minimum circulation time is at least 300x
  • REBOWL partnership integrated into RECUP partnership

FairBox from FairCup GmbH comes in two sizes, a transparent reusable lid and a flexible divider. The FairBoxes are empties machine certified. On the company's website, potential partners have the opportunity to look at a cost comparison compared to disposable containers, as well as the possible savings. 

  • Available sizes: 500 ml and 1,000 ml bowls with optional divider and transparent lid
  • Different contract periods (between 3 and 36 months with different notice periods)
  • Amount of the system contribution varies (for 1 year: € 31.00 net per month, including FairCup partnership)
  • Trial period: 3 months (111,00 € net)
  • Minimum circulation time is at least 500x

The containers from reCIRCLE are available in five different sizes. This means that most dishes can be optimally packaged. After only 8-16 uses, restaurateurs achieve a positive eco-balance. Customers receive reusable cutlery free of charge with every rental. The boxes can be borrowed directly against a deposit and the deposit clearing can be easily solved via the employee ID card. 

  • available sizes: 350 ml for cup / menu plate (900 ml), bowl without subdivision (600 ml, 1.050 ml), bowl with subdivision (590 ml)
  • Minimum contract period: 1 month, thereafter notice period 30 days to the end of the month
  • Usage fee: 13.5 ct net per meal served in reCIRCLE container
  • Recording e.g. via cash register system
  • Minimum circulation time is between 150 and 200x
Tiffin boxes can be used up to 3,000 times

Tiffin Loop by ECO Brotbox GmbH - While disposable solutions are always provided anew, reusable solutions can be used several times. The stainless steel box by Tiffin comes with a carrying handle and makes it easy to transport. A cost breakdown on the Tiffin website simplifies the decision for partners.

  • 1,200 ml stainless steel box
  • no minimum contract period
  • monthly membership fee for participation in the deposit network (€ 19.95 net)
  • Issuing to customers against deposit (€ 15.00)
  • Minimum circulation time is at least 3000x

PFABO GmbH offers modular reusable packaging specially developed for the retail trade as an alternative to disposable packaging. The deposit boxes can be used in different ways - in the bakery, take-away or convenience sector.

  • different sizes
  • Euronorm E2 transport container compatible
  • Issuing to customers against deposit (€ 5.00)
  • Minimum circulation time is at least 200x

The eatTAINBALE reusable system offers its stainless steel Gastronorm containers in different sizes: from small single-portion boxes to large catering containers. A retrofittable QR code sticker enables existing and new GN containers or even own reusable boxes to be dispensed quite easily without a deposit. Via the central dashboard, each reusable partner can see which container is on loan from which customer. They can create their own loan periods or additional deposit types, as well as other individual configurations. Customers can also easily and clearly manage control over their own containers and their loan periods. The same principle with professional mobile scanning units is used for the bulk container. You can read about which systems and solutions are available for take-aways here.

End customers are increasingly demanding environmental awareness and sustainability. Wisefood delivers edible plates

With its sustainable disposable and reusable products, such as edible tableware made of apple fibre, the Munich-based company Wisefood also helps gastronomic businesses to package food in a climate-friendly and legally compliant way. 

The changeover to reusable packaging and/or deposit systems is coming to catering businesses and will soon become a reality. In the long term, disposable packaging is no longer an alternative and such political steps will force a rethink in society. We would be happy to explain to you in a personal meeting what other possibilities there are in the food sector to adapt to the sustainability requirements.

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More profit.

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Less Food Waste.

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More time for customers.