Pioneering is key to a circular economy

Source: REWE

Pioneering is key to a circular economy


Thomas Reiner | 09.10.2020

Pioneers try out paths that no one else dares to take and prepare the way for others to follow. Such is the case with REWE’s innovate reusable tray system test for its salad bars. Regardless of whether REWE‘s concept will gain traction now or at a later attempt: the model points in the right direction. We desperately need innovative alternatives to tackle today‘s wasteful status quo.


The German supermarket chain REWE offers customers in selected stores a deposit-free, reusable tray system for its salad bars. The concept, which has been adapted to the special requirements of supermarkets, will initially be tested by REWE at five locations. The campaign focuses on reducing packaging waste in the food-to-go sector.

REWE has entered into a cooperation with the start-up VYTAL for this test. The central element of the reusable system is a plastic tray that can be closed with a leak-proof lid. The tray has a volume of 1,250 ml, is dishwasher-safe and microwaveable.

Consumers can “activate” the trays via a barcode and an app or via an offline ticket at the dispenser stations in the supermarket and remove them from the dispenser.

After filling the bowl at the salad bar and paying for it at the checkout, customers can take the bowl home with them. They then have two weeks to return the packaging to the store free of charge. REWE has set up its own return stations for this purpose. If the tray is returned within 24 hours, the customer does not have to rinse it, but only empty it completely and seal it. For returns beyond 24 hours, consumers are asked to rinse the tray with cold water.

REWE is a pioneer among food retailers in Germany with this test. And regardless of whether this very concept is already effective here and now or whether it will only work the next time it is tested: the model points in the right direction and is fully in keeping with the spirit of the times. We need alternatives to the status quo. REWE is looking for them and testing solutions. That is good!

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80% of consumers demand more transparency with packaging

80% of consumers demand more transparency with packaging


Thomas Reiner | 06.10.2020

We must inform and educate better. Not only because we are responsible and shouldn‘t wait until regulations are in place. But above all because there are great opportunities for marketing.


A large majority of consumers want to know more about the packaging that is used in their households. The focus is on information about the type, quantity and recyclability.

These are the key findings of a study carried out by the Germany-based Institute for Ecological Economic Research (IÖW). The study is based on an online survey of over 1,000 people and is part of the Innoredux research project (, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Specifically, more than 80 per cent of the respondents stated that they wanted to know more about “their” packaging. When four out of five consumers want more transparency, this is a strong signal.

On the one hand, it means that consumers feel overburdened with the disposal of accumulated packaging and demand help. On the other hand, it makes it clear that there can be no question of disinterest in packaging and recycling issues.

Today’s consumer (and even more so tomorrow) is environmentally aware and wants to act responsibly. They want sustainable packaging and clear guidance on how to buy and dispose of it “properly”.

Our task is thus clearly defined: To inform, educate and provide transparency. Obviously, we have not yet lived up to our responsibility and must make significant improvements.

In our own interest, too, we should not wait until a corresponding regulatory obligation forces us to do so. On the contrary, we should take advantage of the great opportunities that are opening up for marketing.

Because those who proactively educate, inform and ensure transparency can stand out and make a difference. Fulfilling consumer wishes, as sustainably and early as possible. That is what we work on every day. Let’s seize the opportunity!

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EU adopts plastics tax from 1 January 2021. And that‘s just the beginning…

Source: Freepik/teksomolika

EU adopts plastics tax from 1 January 2021. And that‘s just the beginning…


Thomas Reiner | 29.09.2020

The European Council has recently decided to introduce an EU-wide plastics tax. The deadline is 1 January 2021 and the tax is €0.80 per kg of non-recycled plastic packaging and has to be paid by Member States into the EU budget. The fresh money will be used to finance the Corona-related reconstruction package.

As a further measure, the Council has decided to increase the required recycling rates for plastic packaging from 2025. At the same time, the calculation methodology will change.

It is to be expected that the EU states will each choose different approaches to financing the levy. The result would be a patchwork of regulations which would make the consequences of the new tax for market participants even more serious.

For one thing is clear: the consequences will be serious. The EU is taking it seriously. The tax is massive and it is only the beginning.

It is already clear that the required recycling rates will continue to rise. It will no longer be a question of quantity, but of quality. So it will not be enough for plastic packaging to be theoretically recyclable. The decisive factor will be that it is actually recycled! Only what is really recycled and remains in the cycle will be considered recyclable.

It is already clear that the new tax will lead to major market shifts. And it is also clear that it represents the beginning rather than the end of regulation. The longer we need to close the plastics loop, the more numerous and more stringent further measures will be. There is no alternative: we have to go down the road and close the plastic cycles completely.

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