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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.