Businesses for Reuse

Uniting to create a circular economy & sustainable future.

Are you a business that believes in reuse?

Join other businesses like you to demand systems change and see reuse become a reality in Europe.

Open Letter

to be signed by businesses
To all public decision makers at the local, national, and European level,
We, the businesses who have signed this letter and represent a diverse group from across Europe, demand further action from those with the responsibility to act, to help us achieve a sustainable future.
Through our businesses, we wish to pursue a truly circular, zero waste, and non-toxic economy, by eliminating single use products and offering reuse solutions, services, and products, such as - but not limited to - refill services (e.g. for beverages, food and cleaning products), reusable cups, food containers, e-commerce and supply chain solutions, as well as reusable menstrual products, nappies, and washing services.

That is why #WeChooseReuse to be at the core of our business model, choosing and prioritising reusable over single-use products wherever possible.

Mainstreaming well-designed reuse alternatives undoubtedly constitutes a significant part of the climate change equation, not least thanks to better overall resource efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. The economic and environmental costs of single-use products have been externalised for too long, offering them an unfair competitive advantage over reuse systems, which are the only ones that address the pollution problem at the source and foster sustainable consumption habits. Moving away from disposable and toxic products will be a blessing for our damaged ecosystems and biodiversity, with a direct positive effect on the health of citizens. It will also help businesses, organisations and cities to cut waste management related costs as well as to promote local employment.
The good news is that the systemic change we are calling for is already happening, with impactful reuse and refill business models emerging all over Europe (see Appendix I for a list of successful examples).
Yet, many of us are still struggling to scale up, develop our reuse solutions, or even survive in the current market. The main challenges that we face are:
  • The high investment costs to run a reuse/refill system infrastructure (collecting, washing and reverse logistics) at scale.
  • Operating cost at the early stages, before the point of break even, or profit, has been reached.
  • The unfairly low production costs of toxic and disposable single-use products.
  • Discriminatory (and often unfounded) sanitary regulations.
  • Potential liability concerns due to a lack of clarity in the legislation, e.g. should a customer bring a contaminated reusable container.
  • The low level of engagement from public authorities and Producer Responsibility Organisations to raise awareness among citizens and businesses and encourage them to take up reuse options.
  • The absence of standardised systems and designs for businesses to use the same basic packaging formats, be able to pool resources and create economies of scale when applicable.
A circular economy can only grow and thrive where incentives are in place to reward prevention, reuse, and preparation for reuse, and disincentives are established to discourage linear consumption patterns and the ongoing over-focus on recycling. We need a systematic overhaul of ‘business as usual’, and strong stimuli to empower new consumption and production business models that prevent waste at the source and favor reuse. And, although we do our very best to contribute to this transition with our businesses, we cannot do it only by ourselves.
This is why we demand from our decision makers at the local, national, and European level to play their respective role in taking ambitious measures that create enabling conditions for reuse and refill business models to thrive.
We ask you to define ambitious reuse targets and support these by the necessary measures, standards and legislation.
We ask you to encourage and support reuse business models through economic incentives, information sharing, and awareness raising.
And we ask you to lead the way in this transition, adopting public procurement policies that prioritise reuse services and products within all publicly-run and sponsored events and facilities.
In Appendix II and III, we highlight some of the key actions that public authorities can take to help society transition to a true circular economy full of successful reuse and refill business models.

We urge you to support the #WeChooseReuse campaign, and act accordingly to work with us.

In return, we will help you put reusable solutions at the heart
of Europe’s transition to a zero waste and resilient society.


Appendix I - Successful reuse business models in Europe

This overview lists some of the reuse and refill business models that can be found all around Europe.

  • Thousands of cafés offer and accept reusable coffee cups for on the go consumption in e.g. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania and Switzerland.
  • Reusable cups are used at several festivals in e.g. Belgium, Lithuania and The Netherlands.
  • Reusable meal container solutions for food delivery services and take-away food, often with a deposit return scheme (DRS), are present in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland. 
  • Reusable cup, plate and bowl rental, with deposit, at events in Estonia.
  • Over 30,000 refill points for water bottles in the UK.
  • Over 4,000 public points of quality drinking water, through kiosks equipped with filtration and supply systems in Italy, replacing the sale of bottled water.
  • Over 1,000 drinking fountains and 55 monumental fountains are managed by the City of Vienna in Austria. Drinking fountains are located, for example, in parks, at playgrounds and at markets.
  • “Product as a service” for rented cloth nappies in Belgium and Italy with centralised washing service for daycare and households. In Italy, the scheme is monitored by health authorities.
  • “Nappy Library” in Ireland where parents can rent and try reusable nappies before investing in them.  Once finished with their trial, users return the nappies for others to try.
  • Reuse systems for facemasks, with deposit and washing service, in Finland and Slovenia.
  • There are over 50 zero waste and low waste shops in Belgium.
  • In Portugal, more than 200 stores sell in bulk and provide the opportunity for a zero waste lifestyle.
  • 107 Slovenian shops sell part of their products in bulk, and there are three zero waste shops.
  • One retail chain in Lithuania offers refills of body care and home wash products directly into the consumer's own container. They also have a Zero Waste section for products without packaging and zero waste products like menstrual cups and toothpaste in glass jars. 
  • Hundreds of automated liquid-refill stations for dispensing ecological cleaning products can be found all across the UK and Ireland, and also emerging in Belgium, Slovenia and The Netherlands.
  • A large number of milk machines in Slovenia offer local milk in bulk. One Slovenian farmer offers dairy products delivery in reusable containers. 
  • Two renowned professional organisations promote reuse in France: 1) Réseau Vrac, promoting and supporting bulk sale, working with over 1,700 businesses in France and around the world; and 2) Réseau Consigne, supporting over 200 businesses with DRS and reuse systems for all kinds of packaging.
  • B2B reusable and RFID trackable fishing crates with boxpool collection points in 7 countries in Europe and a centralized washing facility in Denmark. Operates approximately 260.000 crates.

Appendix II - Demands for local decision makers

This list states a series of measures that local decision makers (e.g. municipalities, districts, provinces) can take to help reuse and refill businesses to thrive. 

Note that resources, in terms of money and staff, differ greatly between larger and smaller municipalities. Some of these demands might therefore not (yet) be achievable by all. We challenge local decision makers to be ambitious and do whatever is in their ability to aid the increase of reuse and refill business in their territory. 

Local authorities should adopt ambitious policies and legislation, such as local ordinances, that:

  • Showcase leadership by adopting public procurement policies that prioritise reuse services and products within publicly-run and sponsored events and facilities. 
  • Ban single-use packaging (incl. cups, tableware and bags) for certain sectors and/or during all public and closed-loop events. 
  • Where full bans are not possible, decision makers should introduce economic incentives for citizens and businesses that help make reusable and refillable options the norm and remove the preference for single-use products and materials as much as possible.
  • Implement circular, waste prevention strategies that are within the jurisdiction of local decision makers.
  • When applicable, impose a local tax on single-use items (as they do for food and drinks and single-use cutlery in Tübbingen, to compensate for the absence of a national tax in Germany).
  • Provide greater access to free tap water within public spaces, to prevent single-use plastic bottles being used.

Local authorities should encourage and support local reuse business models, for example by: 

  • Increasing the availability and accessibility of funding for reuse and refill pilots and start-up initiatives.
  • Ensuring businesses have access to required knowledge and information to integrate reusable options within their existing business as much as possible. Ultimately, this should be complemented by the support from trained municipality officials acting as reuse contact points.
  • Delivering clear and locally-tailored communications to citizens and businesses, explaining not only how, but also why, such measures are important and beneficial to the protection of the natural environment and the creation of local jobs.
  • Support a wide range of local stakeholders to run awareness-raising campaigns, embedding a reuse mindset within our communities.
  • Support the establishment of innovative reuse and DRS projects with local businesses, to increase job creation and reduce waste at the same time.
  • Establish structural partnerships between public and private stakeholders (reuse businesses, communities, consumers organisations, HORECA, retail, e-commerce, research and innovation startups - management, reuse solutions, etc. ), to jointly develop and implement reuse and refill initiatives.
  • Provide economic incentives for citizens to use reuse and refill business models, such as discounts and rebates at those businesses, helping to not only raise awareness on reuse but also to increase the volume of customers using reuse and refill businesses and services.
  • Supporting and enabling local reuse centres that act as a hub for reuse, repair and upcycling activities, where zero waste businesses can showcase and sell their products/services and which is also a marketplace for raw materials.
  • Monitor and analyse the remaining residual waste, to identify products and materials that need to be redesigned for reuse. 

Appendix III - Demands for national governments and the EU

Both national governments and the EU have the power to encourage change, notably by creating the market conditions that will drive the supply and demand for reuse services and goods. Also, in order to achieve the reduction of single-use plastics consumption, in line with the EU’s Single Use Plastics Directive and the Circular Economy Action Plan, reuse is inevitable.

These public authorities should lead the way in mandating the use of reusables over single-use options in the following ways:

  • Adopt targeted bans on single-use products beyond those already mandated by the Single Use Plastics Directive, preferably at EU level.
  • Set ambitious reuse targets, preferably at EU level, for key sectors and products, including - but not limited to - beverage containers and cups for beverages, food containers, household products, e-commerce packaging, transport and menstrual products and nappies.
  • Speed up the transition to reuse in the HORECA sector, e.g. by setting an obligation to use reusable tableware for on-site consumption and ban monodose products (milk, sugar, condiments, etc) for on-site consumption, and an obligation to provide alternative option to monodose for take away.
  • Ensure an appropriate level of economic incentives to support innovative reuse pilots and start-ups, and let these investments be guided by ambitious targets.
  • Establish differentiated EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) fees or reduced VAT on reusable products, with higher taxes on single-use products (especially made from virgin plastic). In this way, producers of products and packaging are held responsible for the whole life-cycle management of their products, including littering and toxicity related issues. 
  • Increase the demand for reusable products by adopting minimum mandatory green public procurement (GPP) policies that prioritise reuse services and products, for publicly-run and sponsored events and facilities.
  • Promote and provide guidance on setting up Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) and expand this system to apply to many types of reusable items (bottles, containers, cutlery) so that these systems also support reuse and not only recycling. In order to help DRS systems to thrive and scale-up in Europe, national regulations should also be harmonised, not least when it comes to the VAT rate applied to deposits as well as to how these deposits are to be handled.
  • Support reuse start-ups, zero waste retailers and projects with knowledge and tools by:
  • Providing guidance on logistics for collection, cleaning and delivery of reusables.
  • Facilitating effective ownership models and business development.
  • Promoting dissemination of best practises and knowledge exchange.
  • Set EU-wide harmonised formats/design and systems for certain packaging types (e.g. cups, bottles and containers) to enable the scale-up of reuse and refill across the single-market.
  • At EU level, give sufficient legal security and liability relief/indemnity to reuse, refill and bulk selling and make clear which rules apply, e.g. by creating official definitions.
  • Prevent unverifiable claims of reusability and labelling as reusable in the absence of dedicated infrastructure, and address consumer confusion through explicit explanation on how and by whom the item is intended to be reused. Collaborate with National Food Safety Authorities to develop guidelines on reusable systems. 
  • Monitor and analyse, through robust data collection, the remaining residual waste and litter, to identify products, materials and systems that need to be redesigned for reuse.
  • Revise regulations so that reusables, at end of life stage, can be fully and safely recycled into new, safe reusable.
  • Strengthen the enforcement of rules on non-compliant products entering the single market, including via Online Market Places (OMPs) and from non-EU countries.

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La Consignerie (Events) from Lille, France signed 4 months ago
OÜ Baun (Other) from Tartumaa, Estonia signed 4 months ago
Foundation for Environmental Collaboration Centers - FCA (Other) from Maputo, Mozambique signed 5 months ago
Parry Kit Network CIC (Events) from Winchester, United Kingdom signed 6 months ago
Les extra-ordinaires (E-commerce) from Chalonnes-sur-Loire, France signed 6 months ago
Loop (Retail) from Paris, France signed 6 months ago
LEF (Retail) from Tessenderlo, Belgium signed 7 months ago
InOff Plastic (Other) from Bayonne, France signed 10 months ago
OPTIONS SOLUTIONS (Hotel/Restaurant/Café) from LES MUREAUX, France signed 1 year ago
O2W (Retail) from Lisboa, Portugal signed 1 year ago
Zero Impack (Hotel/Restaurant/Café) from Milano, Italy signed 1 year ago
Minja (Other) from Bordeaux, France signed 1 year ago
Agence 148 | Branding & Digital (Other) from Paris, France signed 1 year ago
Natures Alchemy (E-commerce) from Waterford, Ireland signed 1 year ago
(E-commerce) from Lyon, France signed 1 year ago
Green Me More (Other) from Nimes, France signed 1 year ago
Dabba (Hotel/Restaurant/Café) from Grenoble, France signed 1 year ago
Dabba (Hotel/Restaurant/Café) from Grenoble, France signed 1 year ago
vision müllfrei (Other) from Gratwein-Straßengel, Austria signed 1 year ago
Potjes & Deksels (Retail) from Capelle aan den IJssel, Netherlands signed 1 year ago
Wash-it (Other) from Kruisem, Belgium signed 1 year ago
LOOS Utrecht (Retail) from Utrecht, Netherlands signed 1 year ago
KRNWTR+ (Other) from Amsterdam, Netherlands signed 1 year ago
Zereau Drinks (Other) from Amsterdam, Netherlands signed 1 year ago
Dripl (Other) from brussels, Belgium signed 1 year ago

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  • 'Earthway refill store', Midleton, Co. Cork, Ireland: Wendy and Andrea
  • 'The Happy Pear', Greystones, Co.Wicklow, Ireland: Dave Flynn

  • 'Manna Organic Store' Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland: Claire O'Connor
  • 'Skerries Fish Market' North Co. Dublin, Ireland: Nathan
  • 'The Refill Mill' Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Ireland: Eibhlin Fitzpatrick
  • 'Well & Good' Midleton, Co. Cork, Ireland: Jill Bell
  • 'The Source Bulk foods' Rathmines, Co. Dublin, Ireland: Ken Kinsella
  • 'Pax Wholefoods', Westport, Co. Sligo, Ireland: Kirstin McDonagh and Mckinley Neal
  • 'Refill.ie', Ireland: Jennifer Corcoran
  • 'Small Changes', Drumcondra, Co.Dublin, Ireland: Peadar Rice

And commit to reuse as an individual.

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