To-go is becoming more sustainable: restaurants expect problems
10.08.2022, 16:52 | Reading time: 5 minutes
Plancafe operator Mur Kasap and Sarah Budke.
Photo: Patrick Goldstein
In addition to Corona and inflation, a new reusable system will be the next challenge. Two café operators in Kreuzberg have mastered it.
Berlin. From next year, most takeaway food and drink providers will need to stock reusable crockery. What will be implemented nationwide by the Packaging Act on January 1, 2023 will be a major challenge for restaurateurs. Sarah Budke and mür Kasap, who run the “Plancafe” in Kreuzberg, have long since taken the hurdle. However, they predict major problems for the industry with the new requirements.
Four and a half years ago he started his “Plancafe” in Grafekies – environmentally conscious from the start. With a gastronomic experience and locations in the Alexa Mall in Hamburg, Bremen, Ham & Mitte in North Rhine-Westphalia, they offer coffee drinks, fitness drinks, muesli, bowls, cakes based on the family recipe from Budke’s Munsterlander grandma and French toast. Hm. Just like Kashyap’s mother used to. Name of the dish: “Mom loves you”.
Biodegradable to-go packaging
From buying goods to bidding are strict. The plastic cups are made of polylactic acid, PLA, which is made from renewable raw materials and is biodegradable. Grass or paper was used as straw. And the coffee comes directly, i.e. without intermediaries, from a friend of mine, Ulrich, a coffee farmer in Nicaragua. Hand picked, sun dried, 100% pesticide free. “We spend twice as much on this as on normal coffee,” says Sarah Budke. “And if you choose oat milk instead of cow’s milk, you don’t have to pay extra here like you do elsewhere,” says Kasap. “Because we want to encourage customers to become vegetarian.”
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As a restaurant you should be able to afford it. Kasap (49) and partner Budke (37) run a management consultancy specializing in sustainability issues. Restaurants are a hobby, says Budke, who was in the store every day until a year and a half ago.
Corona: Customers kept coming
Both believe the emphasis on sustainability has brought the neighborhood cafe popularity that has enabled it to weather the corona. Customers kept coming and at one point even bought their own ingredients for the coffee at home. “That gives the guests the good feeling of ordering something sustainable,” says Budke. When the rooms could no longer offer a meeting place during the lockdown, neighbors came together in front of the “Plancafe”.
If the obligation to offer reusable tableware comes into force next year, this will not mean any change for Plankafe. The reusable supplier Relevo already has cups and bowls. Sarah Budke says that for those who have not yet done so, this means a considerable amount of extra work. Reusable systems require, for example, that users have an app with which they can borrow cups and bowls and return them to the library. “You have to point out that you have to be trained in the store if the customer requests it, new bills come up, which then lead to new transfer costs,” she says.
The industry expects 20 percent more time
On average, the industry expects at least ten to 20 percent longer. The deployment of at least one 450-euro worker is necessary because the tasks have to be spread over several shoulders. The use of rental crockery costs 20 to 25 cents per cup instead of ten cents per cup. Restaurant friends are currently frequently asking what they expect from the changeover.
“It will also be difficult for customers,” says Kasap. “It’s easy to get cravings for coffee, and if you’re not particularly digitally fit, you’ll have problems.”
There is a lot of packaging waste in the region
“Especially in our region, there is a lot of packaging waste,” says Kasap. “Almost artistic towers made of pizza boxes were stacked.” You can see that on Sunday afternoon, for example, when the coastal path in Urbanhafen is lined with rubbish. The container at the Admiralbrücke is then filled with pizza boxes, possibly also with garbage bags that are hanging on the fence of the bank.
The district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is trying to counteract this with the “Ask for Reusability” campaign. Since the spring, citizens have been asked to request take-out orders to see if they can receive the goods in reusable tableware. Companies that already do this should announce customers on the page. A shopping card has been created for environmentally conscious buyers, targeting sustainable suppliers.
So far only 14 companies with reusable containers
This is part of a reusable project the district started in January. 290 companies are currently being advised on how to bring reusable containers to customers. The costs of 60,000 euros were covered by Senate funds. But since then only 14 companies have introduced returnable containers.
From January 1st, catering, delivery service and restaurant businesses with more than 80 square meters of retail space nationwide must offer reusable containers as an alternative to disposable containers when selling food and drinks to take away. Whoever brings a vessel should fill out his order in it.
Violations are subject to higher fines
Violating new requirements can be painful for restaurants. According to the Packaging Act, up to 10,000 euros must be paid if you do not offer the product in reusable packaging, the reusable variant is more expensive or has poorer conditions, or the reusable packaging is not correctly indicated. What was planned in the federal government ends up as extra work in the districts: their already overburdened regulatory offices have to take care of the controls.