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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