Increasing use of Reusables in Gastronomy in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg

Increased out-of-home consumption, as well as the shift of activities outdoors due to the Corona pandemic has shown that improper disposal of single-use and take-away containers of any form (e.g., styrofoam, plastic, plastic-coated cardboard, paper/cardboard, aluminium, glass, etc.) are increasingly becoming a problem in inner-city areas.


Bezirksamt Friedrichshain – Kreuzberg




January 2022 – December 2022

The challenge

With the highest population density of all districts in Berlin and over 300 restaurants, 200 cafés and 68 bars, as well as a thriving weekly market scene, the sheer combination of residents in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, combined with a steadily growing number of visitors and tourists, has brought the enormous amount of disposable packaging waste from gastronomy into sharp focus. 

Whilst reusable solutions for the purchase and consumption of food and beverages outside the home do exist, they are offered and advertised only partially, and usually on the initiative of individual businesses, as there are currently no district-wide solutions or infrastructure in place.  As a result, those who do take the initiative to  implement reusables are faced with an enormous amount of additional logistical, financial and personnel effort, which can act as a barrier.

Our approach

Single-use packaging in gastronomy has become the norm, and it will require education and awareness from both sides – customers and businesses – in order to make the shift from single-use to reusable both socially acceptable and, eventually, demanded by the population. Addressing and raising awareness among businesses and the community, and providing support for the introduction of reusable options, will be a key element of success.  Our goal is to remove as many barriers as possible, in order to make the shift to reusables as painless as possible – working with existing providers of reusable ‘pool’ solutions and local changemakers and initiatives in Berlin, in order to do so.

Before developing targeted materials, events,  and campaigns to encourage this shift in behavior, we will perform initial research on the current level of acceptance and implementation of reusable packaging in the district.  Once we have a baseline, we will develop initiatives to help encourage and facilitate this shift.  Doing so, will create immediate benefits on both a local level (making the district more liveable) as well as on a global level (the reduction of trash and the increased use of valuable resources).

The project will be split into 2 phases:

  • Jan-June 2022: Determine the baseline for current use/acceptance of reusables in both hotspots, and develop materials, campaigns, and events to help increase awareness and create behavior change towards adoption of reusables, and rejection of single-use solutions, including the creation and implementation of measures for companies to make themselves publicly visible on the market with their reusable offer.
  • July-December 2022:  Understand which measures are already having an effect and which companies have switched over as part of the implemented measures , as well as what elements are still causing doubts and challenges, in order to optimize our communications approach and ensure an effective transition to reusable solutions.

The outcomes

The primary goal of this project is to increase the awareness of single-use alternatives and how to use them, as well as the demand for reusables for gastronomy – specifically for to-go/ take-away, food trucks and market stands.  Doing so, will reduce the amount of trash in our parks and streets, and vastly improve the standard of living for our citizens, whilst also making a clear statement about Berlin and it’s stance on sustainability.

Further steps

Armed with a better knowledge of the current barriers to adopting reusable solutions in gastronomy, and working together with current providers and local initiatives, we will develop materials and offer free consultations to those businesses interested in making the shift away from single-use.  

Understanding the best way to encourage this shift, so that it can become more widespread in Berlin, and gain further traction across all districts, will be crucial to helping the thousands of restaurants, cafes and markets in Berlin, as well as their customers,  make the transition away from single-use.

Project contact person

Meg Koch

Education Lead

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Maximilian Mauracher

Project management & Food and Hospitality team

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