Reusable packaging is here to stay! According to the German government, take-away packaging generates 770 tonnes of waste every day in this country. To help reduce this mountain of waste, a new law came into force on 1 January 2023: it is now obligatory for food service providers to offer their customers the option of reusable containers rather than disposable packaging for take-away meals and drinks. This law (which is known in German as the Mehrwegpflicht), applies not only to restaurants, cafés and street vendors, but also to delivery services and catering companies.
Reducing take-away waste
It has almost become the norm to sell take-away coffee in reusable cups – or even for customers to bring their own. But does the new law mean that, from now on, your guests can bring their own tubs for take-away food, too? The short answer is: yes! Almost all businesses that offer food and drink to go are now obliged to use customer-supplied containers on request or to offer their own reusable packaging with an optional deposit. This system should save a lot of waste going forward and will allow every consumer to choose to make a positive contribution towards protecting the environment.
Avoiding plastic waste in the food service industry
The main goal of the new law is to cut down on the use of plastic packaging like salad bowls, burger boxes and cups – or even disposable aluminium trays and paper products with a plastic coating. We have compiled a checklist of what this means for you:
Go it alone or join a pool?
As a food service business, you have the choice to either provide reusable packaging yourself or to join a larger pool system. Going it alone means buying your own reusable containers and offering these to your customers in exchange for a deposit. You can also put your logo on the containers to increase customer loyalty.
In a pool system, several businesses in the region – and sometimes even nationwide – use the same containers from a central provider. Your customers can then return the used containers at any affiliated establishment.
A win-win situation
It may sound at first like reusable solutions are more expensive, but they actually save you money in the long run. When you use sturdy reusable containers – like WAS Germany’s transport and storage containers, or the reusable pizza boxes from our Selected Brand PIZZcycle – you benefit from a long-term, sustainable solution that is ultimately cheaper than using disposable packaging.
Another advantage is the positive business image created by being seen to act responsibly. Plus, because customers keep coming back to you for their deposits, the system also fosters long-term customer loyalty.
And don’t worry – experience from businesses where a reusable system is already in place shows that guests are usually grateful to be offered the alternative.