Since the beginning of July 2021, many single-use plastic items - such as disposable tableware, drinking straws and polystyrene to-go cups - have been banned throughout the EU. In addition, German restaurateurs will be required to offer reusable packaging for take-away food from 2023 aon - a challenge given the simultaneous increase in take-away and delivery. Matthias Schönberger, managing director of the Moschmosch noodle bar concept, explains how his company has been tackling the problem for some time.
Which products had to be sorted out due to the single-use plastic regulation? Which containers / packaging parts are the most difficult to replace?
We don't currently have to sort out any products because we have done it before. These were straws, disposable cutlery and polystyrene packaging. In the medium term we will offer a reusable solution for our take away business.
What products / materials do you rely on as disposable replacements?
We have not replaced straws - most people can drink without a straw. Disposable cutlery with bamboo solutions, polystyrene and aluminium bowls partly with bagasse and cardboard bowls. We also still use "high quality" plastic bowls that are reusable for the consumer, and better recognized by recycling facilities. In addition, we do not automatically give cutlery with every order, but ask for the necessity. These are all solutions that are better, but still not really very good. The development continues and we are willing to follow every improvement.
How do you assess the supply of plastic alternatives?
From my point of view, the alternatives are getting better and there is clearly more speed. At the same time, the market of the delivery business is changing. With an increasing number of courier drivers on bikes, it is becoming more convenient and easier to have food delivered to your home. However, this food needs to be "bike transport safe". It is different if I pick up a soup in a restaurant and carry it home or to the office myself, than if the soup is driven through the city by a bike courier. And so the packaging has to be able to do more again. And so far, plastic is still the best solution to this problem. We no longer offer soups for delivery for this reason either.
How will the change be communicated to guests?
With our restaurants, we are addressing a group of guests to whom we do not owe any explanation for such changes. Our guests understand the problem - but still want to have a flawless meal at home - without soggy bowls or leaking sauces. Reconciling that is the challenge.
In addition, restaurateurs will be required to use reusable containers in 2023. How far along is your company here? Is it already being tested? Which system will you rely on and when do you expect it to be implemented across the board?
We have put together a working group on this topic from our management trainees who will decide on our solution. We currently have two favorites that we would like to test at different locations. We hope to start the test in August. I think an area-wide solution will be on the horizon by mid-2022.
Are there any reactions from the guests? Which ones?
I'm sure there will only be positive reactions. We have some guests who have been bringing their own bowls and cups for a while. And the number will increase the easier the solutions are. I can't imagine that even one guest will find a reusable solution an unpalatable alternative.