Disposable coffee cups will soon be a thing of the past in Sweden

Gothenburg first in Sweden to introduce reusable containers in local catering sector

Gothenburg first in Sweden to introduce reusable containers in local catering sector

From 2024, this will be compulsory in the whole country

Starting from January 2024, all retailers and businesses selling food and beverages for takeout in Sweden will have to provide their customers with reusable mugs and boxes. The City of Gothenburg, however, has decided to get ahead of the game and start preparing for the new sustainable reality from now.

The City has launched its Panther system, developed by the TINT company in collaboration with the Municipality and entrepreneurs from the restaurant industry. It means that customers can now borrow and return mugs or lunch boxes from any of the participating food establishments.

It’s simple. Against a deposit, the customer, who buys food or drink, receives a reusable container that is connected to the system through a QR code. The customer can then return the container to any restaurant or café that is part of the network. If the box or mug is not returned within a few weeks, the customer will be charged for the box's cost, SEK 50 (about 5 euros).

What is the expected impact?

Last year, Sweden's Riksdag (Parliament) voted to implement the EU's single-use plastic directive. This means, for example, that some disposable products such as straws, sticks, and cutlery are now banned. That, however, is not enough to tackle the problem of excessive waste, which stems from decades and decades of “throwaway culture” consumer mindset. That is why from 2024 the new law will prescribe that food and beverages to-go must not be sold in disposable packaging.

In Sweden, almost 2 billion takeaway packaging items are used per year. This means that disposable packaging, especially plastic, has increased exponentially. According to Keep Sweden Clean, disposable mugs and boxes account for 14 percent of all litter in the city, and of the plastic found on Europe's beaches, about half are disposable items.

Multiple takeaway (another term for reusable containers in Sweden) rhymes well both with Gothenburg's goal of reducing waste by 30 percent per inhabitant and reducing Gothenburg's climate footprint to close to zero, but also with the waste plan's goal of reducing waste on the ground by 50 percent. Gothenburg is the first to launch a reusable system and hopes that the whole country will catch on,” explains Karin Nielsen, process manager at the municipal waste management company of Gothenburg.

The reusable packaging can be used hundreds of times and when they no longer measure up, the bioplastic must be recycled and become new containers. At present, several local restaurants have taken up the system and the goal is for about fifty to join before the summer. 

After that, the aim is to scale up the reusable system throughout the country. This way, customers can use the same mug and box in all of Sweden.



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