Reusable instead of disposable: EU ban forces food industry to rethink

Just in 2018 alone, the amount of plastic waste that EU countries produced totalled 29 million tonnes. The recycling rate is rising, but too much of our waste still ends up where it doesn’t belong: in the environment and especially in the world’s oceans.

In 2021, the EU ventured to make another push to drastically reduce the volume of waste that we produce as part of its “plastic strategy”. This new drive centred on single-use plastic items, products that are only used once and then thrown away. Many of these products have been banned across Europe since July 2021 and should be replaced by sustainable, reusable solutions. The food and hygiene sectors are particularly affected. The member states implement the EU ban in their national legislation, in Germany for example within the framework of the Packaging Act.

Many caterers, party services, canteen kitchens and long-distance caterers have come under pressure ever since then. This is because disposable products such as plates and food packaging are also on the EU’s red list. But what alternatives are there to disposable plastic – and which is the right one for you as a provider? Dinner-Max offers answers.

Alternatives to single-use plastic: disposable food packaging made of paper, aluminium and organic plastic

Those who do not wish to stop using disposable plastics will find various alternatives on the market. They all have advantages and disadvantages but not all of them are still permitted after the plastic ban came into force.

Einwegverpackung aus Papier: Nicht geeignet für die Verpackung und den Transport fertig zubereiteter Speisen

1. Disposable paper packaging

Is paper packaging now experiencing its great revival? After all, the material is renewable and less harmful to the environment than disposable plastic. But paper is usually completely unsuitable for packaging prepared food. It soaks up liquid, becomes unstable and tears.

Foil coatings or the addition of chemical substances make the material more resistant. But now paper can no longer simply be recycled or composted – and thus falls under the single-use plastic ban.

Einwegverpackung aus Papier: Nicht geeignet für die Verpackung und den Transport fertig zubereiteter Speisen
Einwegverpackung aus Aluminium: Gut zu recyceln, aber mit schlechtem Image

2. Disposable aluminium packaging

Aluminium consumes a lot of energy in production. However, thanks to its natural origin, it can be easily recycled. Assuming it was disposed of correctly.

Today, many consumers reject the material. Some studies have come to the conclusion that aluminium food packaging contributes to the accumulation of the light metal in the body. Health consequences could not be excluded.

Einwegverpackungen aus Bioplastik: Auch sie fallen unter das Einwegplastik-Verbot der EU

3. Disposable packaging made of bio-plastic

In the case of bio-plastics, we distinguish between biobased and biodegradable plastics: Bio-based plastics are made from biomass, i.e. plants such as maize or sugar cane. Their cultivation is problematic: they require farmland that is actually needed for growing food. The fertilisers and pesticides used also pollute the soil.

Biodegradable plastics made of cellulose or degradable polyester, for example, are also only convincing in theory: they are supposed to degrade under certain conditions. In practice, however, it has been shown that the disposable material does not completely decompose in composting plants.

The conclusion of the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU): bioplastics that end up in the environment cause the same damage as conventional plastic! This means that disposable products made of bioplastics also fall under the ban on single-use plastics.

Einwegverpackungen aus Bioplastik: Auch sie fallen unter das Einwegplastik-Verbot der EU

The only real alternative: reusable packaging instead of disposable plastic

Mondo Basic‘ reusable packaging system

If you are looking for a sustainable, legally compliant solution to pack and transport your food, there is only one solution: reusable packaging.

Because reusable products such as dishes and transport boxes made of plastic or porcelain can be used for years and contribute massively to waste reduction. Their high stability and heat resistance enable easy, safe transport and hygienic cleaning.

Reusable packaging leaves the end customer with a good feeling: the high-quality material shows your quality awareness and enhances the value of your food. In this way, your reusable products also contribute to customer loyalty.

We at DINNER-MAX have been producing reusable packaging for food distribution since 1993. In addition to classic insulated systems for hot portioning in out-of-home catering, we also offer reusable solutions for the Cook+Chill and frozen food sectors.

Mondo Basic

The individual packaging systems can be optionally equipped with our porcelain or plastic dishes and expanded on a modular basis. A digital (or alternatively: analogue) control system is available for simple, precise monitoring of your dish return.

Our entry-level product ‘Mondo Basic – consisting of porcelain dishes and insulated box – allows you to deliver a menu with up to 4 components. Mondo Basic is 100% leak-proof, non-slip and keeps the temperature of your food for up to 3 hours. Hot food stays hot, cold food stays cold.

Bravo‘ is ideal for group catering: The set of reusable plastic dishes and insulated box is particularly lightweight and available in several sizes. At up to +130°C, the high-quality, durable plastic menu trays are particularly heat-resistant. Would you like more information about our reusable food packaging? We will be happy to advise you free without obligation.

Reusable plastic tableware ‘Bravo

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