New law in Germany gives people the right to get takeaway in reusable containers

The regulation came into force at the start of 2023

Since 1 January, the German catering industry has been hit by new regulations mandating food businesses to introduce a reusable packaging option. The law was adopted back in May 2021 and set to take effect in 2023, giving companies the chance to prepare for the shift.

Despite the new restrictions on takeaway services, there are many who are exempt from having to provide reusable packaging, like smaller shops with few employees or pizza boxes. Furthermore, consumer protection organisations have said that the regulation would put the onus on the consumer, as they will be able to choose to use reusable packaging or bring their own if they want to avoid waste. Nevertheless, it is still a timid step forward towards reducing waste, a trend reversal for packaging, according to a statement by Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke.

New packaging regulations

According to a statement by the German Environment Ministry, every catering business offering food or drinks to go now must provide reusable containers for customers. This includes cups for every size of beverage the venue offers.

Moreover, the law also says that companies cannot put price deterrents for reusable containers. This means that they cannot charge extra. Instead, they can charge a deposit for the container, but they do not have to.

The deposit, meanwhile, should be returned in full if the container is returned by the customer. This applies to every food-selling venue that has either 80 square metres of space or more than five employees. In this way, the little chain bakeries at train stations, for example, would still need to offer reusable containers.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke was quoted in a press statement, explaining that the waste produced by the take-out industry is a growing concern for Germany. At the same time, she added that Germany could still do more for the packaging turnaround.

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