There is nothing complicated about reuse, really. At home we have no problem using dishes, clothes, towels, washing them and placing them back in their spot. But everything seems to change the moment we leave our doorstep. We are used to grabbing our coffee from a coffee shop, gas station or kiosk. We order take-away to eat on the go or in the office. Single use cups and food packaging have spoilt us to just through all of it away. But convenience does not need to mean disposability. However, a reuse system operates under the principle that the coffee-shops and restaurants actually want their stuff back. Just like at home!
No doubt this is easy to understand, but it might be a little harder to imagine, how to make it happen? After all, discarded food wrappings have become a common article in our daily lives. It is hardly sensible to expect that people would be walking around with their empty cups and containers across the city or for businesses to track down each customer. This is where technology enters the scene. Recent advancements in payment and identification systems make it possible for there to be a machine - no different in size or principle to an ATM - conveniently close to the consumer. A company such as Cuploop has developed a solution for immediate reimbursement of deposit money when the food or beverage packaging is returned. Any container that carries a special tag (RFID) will grant the consumer immediate money-back directly to their bank account. A system like that has been rolled out in Estonia but could be scaled anywhere, where people buy drinks or food on the go… Wait… that means, everywhere in the world! Globally we are seeing increased innovation to support reuse systems that turn packaging from a liability into an asset.
Another crucial element in the system is hygiene. Any retailer should feel comfortable selling food and drinks in reusables and people should feel convinced that reuse is the most safe and healthy option for any packaging. Whether BYO or offered on the spot, safety has become an issue to not take lightly, holding back both retailers as as well as consumers. In the case of reuse, securing the highest standards is achievable. Anyone could go to the market or shop and ask for products to be packaged in their own containers or refill their coffee cup. Forward thinking Nordic mall chain Stockmann in collaboration with TalTech University has brought to market a one-of-a-kind technology that cleans a client's reusable food box of bacteria, ensuring safe and operative cleanliness in eight seconds - a method typically used to sterilize medical devices.. What could be safer?
Perhaps one of the most successful reuse systems has sprouted from events on the go.These are just a few examples of technology as an enabler for reuse systems. We look forward to more and more of such initiatives and collaborations.
You can show your support to businesses and governments who support reuse by committing on www.wechoosereuse.org
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