Coffee in a plastic-coated paper cup with a plastic lid in the morning, a summer salad in a delicious plastic bowl at lunchtime, and a take-away Asian curry in aluminum in the evening. Many people can hardly imagine doing without to-go. The downside: We are generating more and more waste. In 2019, we produced a total of 220 kilograms of packaging waste per person, including 36 kilograms of plastic.
Plastic packaging waste increased by 94 percent between 1995 and 2019. The to-go culture is just one of several reasons for this – but one that gives cause for concern, as it can be assumed that the mountains of to-go rubbish will continue to rise. Garbage that is not recycled, garbage that too often ends up in nature, in parks or on river banks.
But there is another way! Reusable solutions enable a more environmentally friendly to-go culture. Other disposable materials usually only shift the environmental impact – with reusable systems we can conserve natural resources and set an example against the obsession with throwing away.
Bring your own cups, bags and boxes? It is worth asking!
In the meantime, you can bring your own reusable coffee mug or thermal mug with you and have it filled in many cafés and large coffee shop chains. Snack bars that offer out-of-home meals are also increasingly accepting clean cans that you have brought yourself. However, many of these cafes, snack bars or bistros do not actively draw attention to this possibility. They may fear problems with local authorities because the company is liable for health problems caused by contamination. But basically: There is no law that forbids filling cups, cans or bags that you have brought with you!
Solutions have to be found in the various industries that ensure hygiene standards. For example, cups or vessels brought along are only allowed in certain areas behind the counter or not at all behind the counter. As a report by the consumer association shows, your own coffee-to-go cups, for example, must be rinsed and optically clean and must not touch the “inlet head” of the coffee machine.
The fact that reusable solutions are possible even in hygienically very sensitive areas is shown by many shops where customers can bring their own boxes to buy meat, sausage and cheese.
A huge amount of packaging waste can also be saved in bakeries. In dedicated shops, bread rolls, croissants or sandwiches are served in a small basket on the counter. So it’s no problem to bring your own reusable bags or to use old bags several times.
Here we present various reusable initiatives, which we wish that they can convince even more gastronomic establishments and guests to take part. They also enable environmentally friendly consumption of food and drinks on the go. For the initiatives presented here, returnable containers with a deposit can be borrowed.
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