Digital technology has made it commercially possible for companies to offer an alternative, more sustainable, and deposit-free recyclable packaging system for take-out food. Suppliers rent their packages to restaurants and end users simply pick up their desired take-out and then return the packaging within a specified period free of charge. The restaurant cleans the used packaging and then reuses it. This article explores how one of the pioneers of this new approach, the German company Vytal, makes the new system work and offer five lessons from its experience.
Traditional food packaging and delivery faces a serious sustainability problem. Consumer beverage packaging accounts for between up to 48% in urban solid waste and up to 26% of marine garbage, and the ineffectiveness of traditional recycling and reuse schemes via cash deposits that lead to perceived higher prices, are cumbersome to handle for food providers, and do not incentivize customers to return containers quickly or at all.
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