Mandatory reusable solutions

Amendment to the Packaging Act – reusable packaging will be mandatory from 2023!

Since mid-2021, the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and polystyrene disposable packaging has already been banned (“EU ban on single-use plastic”). Now there are further changes in the Packaging Directive. From 2023, all catering businesses that sell food in disposable plastic containers or drinks in disposable cups will have to offer their clients a reusable alternative. This implements an EU-wide directive into German law. This reusable offer obligation also applies at events or in salad bars in supermarkets.

Kundin nimmt Mehrweggefäß von der Theke

One-way plastic containers also include take-away containers that are coated with plastic or so-called bio-plastic (e.g. cardboard containers). A reusable alternative must therefore already be offered if only a small proportion of the container is made of plastic or bio-plastic. If beverages are served in disposable cups, it does not matter what material the cup is made of. There must always be a reusable alternative here.

For the implementation of the law, a distinction is made between large and small establishments.

Large establishments

Large establishments are those with a store area of more than 80 m² and/or more than five employees. In the case of branches of restaurant chains, the store area and number of employees are added together, so that these usually also count as large establishments. These establishments must offer reusable containers and/or cups for rent in the store. The best way to do this is to join a reusable pool system. However, the business can also purchase their own reusable containers and lend them to their clientele. However, this is usually more expensive and involves more effort. The reusable option must not be more expensive than the product packaged in disposable containers. Reusable cups must be available for all sizes of a to-go beverage.

Small establishments

Small businesses are those with a store area of up to 80 m² and a maximum of five employees at any one time. They do not have to offer reusable containers on site, but must then offer customers to fill their own containers. Part-time employees are counted in proportion.

Duty to inform

Large and small businesses must clearly inform their customers that food and beverages can also be filled in reusable containers.


More than half of all plastic waste can be attributed to single-use packaging. This leads to a variety of problems: on the one hand, single-use packaging is only used for a very short time and thus consumes an unnecessary amount of resources; on the other hand, after use it often ends up on the streets, in parks and waterways, so that it also pollutes the environment in the long term and leads to high cleaning costs in cities. Over the past few years, takeaway consumption has continued to rise – and with it the mountains of packaging waste and the burden on the environment.

Within the project Mehrweg statt Einweg (reusable instead of disposable), we advise gastronomic businesses in the area of Moabiter Turmstraße on the mandatory reusable offer and sensible reusable alternatives to disposable packaging. Please feel free to contact us!