No longer free single-use plastic cups or containers.
Are you in the business of selling take-out meals or coffee to go?
In the Netherlands, starting from July 1st, 2023, there are significant changes that you are hopefully already aware of. You are no longer permitted to provide your customers with plastic single-use cups or food containers free of charge, whether for take-out or delivery orders. Instead, you need to offer them a reusable alternative. Did you verify with your supplier if your cardboard cups or containers contain any plastic lining? Because this is also not allowed. These new rules are having an impact on your business, so it is important to understand what they mean for you. The regulations apply to various types of establishments, including hospitality businesses, restaurants, event booths, and coffee corners.
Additionally, as of 2024, the use of single-use plastics for eating-in will be prohibited as well. This includes company restaurants, office spaces, snack bars, and festivals. While limited exceptions are allowed if necessary, in such cases, you must collect 75 to 90% of all packaging materials for high-grade recycling. However, this presents a considerable challenge, particularly for small businesses.
Which alternatives did you apply to your company to comply with the new regulation regarding eliminating plastic disposables?
Did you choose to continue using plastic single-use containers or cups? If yes, you charge your customers a separate fee. How do your customers respond so far? You have the freedom to set your prices; however, the Dutch government has issued guidelines recommending 25 cents for a cup, 50 cents for a food container, and 5 cents for pre-packaged vegetables, fruit, nuts, and portion-sized packs like sugar or salt. Transparency is crucial, so these packaging fees must be listed separately on the sales receipt and should not be included in the product price. Did you also apply this to the daily work routine?
Fortunately, there are various alternatives available for companies to eliminate plastic disposables. Perhaps you opt to offer reusable packaging, encourage customers to bring their own containers, or use plastic-free disposable alternatives made from natural materials like wood or paper without added plastic. Another option is to replace plastics used for on-premises dining with ceramics, for example, and consider using larger containers of milk or sugar instead of portion-sized packs.
Implementing these alternatives is requiring a change in behavior for both your employees and customers. It is important to educate everyone involved and explain the new system carefully. Regardless of the option you chose, your customers are entitled to a reusable alternative if they bring their own cup or food container. It is worth noting that previous measures to reduce plastic waste, such as the ban on plastic carrier bags implemented in 2016, have proven successful. The number of plastic bags found in street litter has decreased by 70% since then. Research conducted by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management indicates that customers have become more aware of the drawbacks of using plastic.
For customers to get a better understanding and smooth transition to this new way of ordering take-outs, we believe a full product lifecycle transparency is necessary to let customers make informed decisions for future sustainability initiatives. When businesses provide detailed information about the product’s journey, including sourcing, manufacturing processes, and environmental impact, society gains confidence in the brand. Transparency fosters trust and demonstrates a commitment to sustainable practices. In the end, transparency strengthens sustainability!
On top of this, the data collected through an interoperable modular traceability software system enables you to analyze trends, identify areas for optimization, and drive continuous improvement in your packaging practices. It provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of alternative materials, recycling rates, and customer preferences, allowing you to make informed decisions for future sustainability initiatives as frontrunners of your industry.
By prioritizing transparency to achieve sustainability, we can create a win-win situation where all parties reap the rewards of a robust traceability system we proudly call COTIT 360°.