Reusable at events

Whether it's a rock concert, a Christmas market or a business event - since January 2023, the obligation to offer reusable packaging also applies to the event catering sector. Many businesses fear that this will mean additional expense. Yet reusable systems have long been established at many events.

Do you want to learn more about the topic of reuse? For more information, check out our manufacturer, Häppy Compagnie!

Save waste, resources and money with reusable tableware at events

Reusable cups made of polypropylene (PP) have been used at music festivals and football games for a long time. The durable and break-resistant plastic is used for safety reasons as it does not shatter like glass. Additionally, these cups also contribute to climate protection. The campaign "Mehrweg. Mach mit" by the German Environmental Assistance has calculated that 1000 PP reusable cups only require 1.4 kilowatt-hours of electricity for cleaning, while the production of 1000 single-use cups made of polyethylene (PET) requires 350 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Furthermore, these cups remain in use for 3 to 4 years before they need to be replaced. A reusable solution is, therefore, beneficial for the environment and your wallet.

Due to its economic and ecological benefits, reusable solutions have been widely implemented at many renowned large-scale events for a long time. The Breminale, the German Protestant Church Day, and the Munich Oktoberfest have been using sustainable reusable tableware for decades. To further enhance environmental sustainability, an increasing number of events are now utilizing eco-friendly tableware made from renewable resources instead of petroleum-based plastics.

Catering and event: all in one wash-up

Event agencies that plan sustainable events have the option to utilize a reusable pooling system. They rent a quantity of reusable tableware that is continuously cleaned and reused throughout the entire event. The pooling system operator typically offers the collection, washing, and drying of the tableware, either directly or through a dishwashing service. For small events, some municipalities also provide mobile dishwashing services.

When choosing a system, the event agency should ensure that the reusable containers remain suitable for food contact even after multiple washing cycles. This can be identified by the "glass-fork symbol" (according to Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004 requirements for reusable tableware). It is also important to use only reusable tableware produced through fair and environmentally sustainable practices.

In 2022, we provided catering for the Crew World at the OMR Festival using bowls from our "Häppy Box" series. Since then, we have expanded our range of reusable options to include bowls, cups, meal boxes, and various high-quality plates. They are dishwasher-safe, suitable for hot and cold foods, and microwave-safe. Due to their material (Bio-Compound), they are also lighter and more break-resistant than porcelain.

Reusable: Hygiene regulations and deposit at events

The hygiene regulations associated with the requirement of reusable options for take-away food and beverages also apply to events. As foodservice businesses, caterers are responsible for ensuring the safety of food and drinks. The filling and return of containers, as well as service, must be spatially separated. This prevents the transfer of germs or contamination into areas where food is being processed. The guidelines provided by the German Food Association offer detailed information on specific measures to be taken.

Providers of reusable pooling systems usually also offer a deposit solution. Depending on the type of event, a deposit ensures that reusable tableware is not left behind or taken away by guests in large quantities. It is important to maintain a clear separation between the areas for food distribution and deposit return. For reusable cups, the deposit is typically around 1 to 2 euros, while for meal containers, it ranges from 5 to 6 euros. This can discourage visitors from using the reusable offerings, because a considerable amount of money first has to be raised for food and drinks in reusable containers. Deposit systems that do not require cash or deposits are therefore being used more and more frequently in order to design more efficient processes and not to deter borrowers with high costs, e.g. the Mehrweg-App from the company Merways. Not only does it work without deposits or cash, it can also be combined with any reusable container. For example, event organizers can continue to use their individually printed cups and bowls.

Create lasting memories

At certain events, a certain amount of loss of reusable tableware is expected. Especially designed reusable cups that are unique to the event are popular souvenirs among guests. Think of the winter-themed mulled wine mugs at Christmas markets or the colorful festival cups. According to a study by the Öko-Institut e.V., such cups are often reused by visitors for several years. While they may be lost to the pooling system, they also do not generate any waste. Therefore, an event agency can incorporate custom cup designs as sustainable mementos that align with the environmental goals of the event itself.

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