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What does the reusable future look like in gastronomy and retail?

What does the reusable future look like in gastronomy and retail?

The new packaging law has its work cut out for it. Gradually, the ideas on the topics of plastic waste avoidance and reusable packaging are taking on more concrete form. The environment is pleased, of course, but many companies are less so. But the stricter regulations, which already include the coming years, are important and right.

In the following, we briefly summarize the most important points for the catering and retail sectors. We also want to encourage companies that the switch to sustainable packaging can still succeed now.

Retail: an overview of the regulations governing the new mandatory deposit

– Since January 1, 2022, all non-refillable plastic beverage bottles and also all beverage cans are subject to the mandatory deposit.

– Milk and milk substitutes, fruit and vegetable juices, wine and spirits, and niche products such as energy drinks, cider, or apple cider are currently still exempt from the mandatory deposit.

– A transition period until 2024 applies to plastic bottles of dairy drinks.

– Until July 1, 2022, retailers may still sell non-refillable beverage containers that have already been placed on the market without a deposit.

– Currently, the deposit for non-refillable beverage bottles of mineral water, soft drinks, beer and mixed drinks containing alcohol is 25 cents.

What is the purpose of the new deposit system? It ensures that non-refillable beverage bottles can be recycled. In addition to new bottles, they can also be used to make textiles.

About the required recycled content in PET beverage bottles

– From 2025, the proportion of recycled plastic in PET bottles must be at least 25 percent – and from 2030, at least 30 percent.

Why this quota increase? According to the German Federal Environment Ministry, the technical conditions are in place to even produce PET beverage bottles from 100 percent recyclate.

It can be assumed that the required minimum proportion of recycled plastic will continue to rise regularly by a few percent in the further future. Studies show that the proportion of recyclable material is currently increasing by around one percent by mass every year.

Gastronomy: reusable regulations for takeaway food

– From 2023, restaurants, caterers and delivery services will be obliged to offer takeaway and orderable food and beverages not only in disposable containers but also in reusable containers to give consumers a free choice.

– There will be an exception for small catering businesses with up to five employees and a sales area of no more than 80 square meters, such as snack bars. However, they will be able to offer their customers the alternative of filling food and beverages in containers they bring along themselves, and they will have to explicitly point out this option.

What are the benefits of switching to reusable packaging? I’m sure everyone can figure that out for themselves. However, to illustrate it with a fact: In Germany alone, takeaway disposable packaging for food and beverages generates around 770 tons of packaging waste every day. That’s an incredible amount – and unnecessarily far too much.

Toward reusable packaging – the direction is right

– Since July 3, 2021, some disposable plastic products may no longer be manufactured and sold. These include straws and stirrers, disposable cutlery and plates, and cotton swabs, for example.

– Also affected by the regulation are disposable food containers and to-go cups made of Styrofoam.

– These regulations and also the warning label for disposable plastic on hygiene products (wet wipes, sanitary napkins, tampons), tobacco products with plastic-containing filters and disposable beverage containers, which has also been mandatory since July 2021, apply throughout the EU.

So, in small but quite effective steps, work is underway to move away from “single-use” and instead in the direction of “reusable.” To achieve this, of course, it is not enough to simply enact one ban after another. It also requires good alternatives for the products that are no longer permitted.

To some extent, these alternatives already exist. For example, there are already established systems for reusable coffee-to-go cups. Reusable packaging systems that make sense are also being used, at least to a small extent, for takeaway food, primarily in the form of reusable packaging with a deposit.

It can be good

The new regulations show that “green words” are increasingly being followed by action. With the ban on critical single-use items and the development of viable reusable systems, we as entrepreneurs as well as private citizens have the chance to finally really help our troubled environment. More is happening all the time in favor of the circular economy we are striving for.

However, as packaging specialists, we also know that it is a major challenge for numerous companies to follow the rules. Switching to more sustainable product packaging requires resources and expertise – and a considerable amount of both at that. On top of that, the time available for the changeover is becoming increasingly scarce.

For some companies, it is already five to twelve. However, it is also clear that the changeover cannot take place overnight. The technical and logistical changes are simply too massive for that. But that doesn’t mean you should hesitate – on the contrary. The point is to make a change right NOW – and to do so sustainably in every respect.

At B+P Creality, we actively support our customers in making a smooth transition, both to comply with the laws that will gradually come into force, and to consciously contribute to a nature that is alive and beautiful to behold, even in the slightly more distant future. We still have the opportunity to do this. You too can help – with us!

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