ReUse Conference 2019
The ReUse Conference is held every two years. It is an initiative of CEGROBB (European Confederation of Beverage Wholesalers, in collaboration with Deutsche Umwelthilfe, Private Brauereien Germany and Reloop.
The aim of this conference is to formulate proposals and support initiatives that stimulate the use of reusable packaging. Not just in the beverage sector, but in all sectors. Both the primary packaging (the packaging of the product itself, such as the bottle) and the secondary packaging (the case) are closely examined.
In his opening speech Michel Haelterman, President of CEGROBB, highlighted the existence of reusable packaging for food products, lockers for stacking and transporting meat, fruit and vegetable packaging. These alternatives are available, but the EU must to support their introduction more.
What is the evolution of reusable packaging? Unfortunately, we must note that reusable packaging is in decline. A global analysis of reusable packaging in the brewing sector has produced the following results: in 20 years, the market share of reusable packaging has increased worldwide from 34% to 20%.. Germany uses the most reusable packaging per capita. Belgium is second, with 193 reusable bottles per capita. But in Belgium too there is a negative trend. Over the last 20 years, the share of reusable packaging has decreased by 14%, and in the last 10 years the decrease has been 5%.
What steps could be taken to stimulate the use of reusable packaging?
The EU could impose a binding target on member states for the percentage of reusable packaging to be sold in a country. A quota per sector is preferable to a national quota, so that no sector can escape it on the assumption that the other sectors will meet the quota. Quotas could differ depending on the sector. Everyone has to face their responsibilities. Countries can impose them now and should not wait for a European initiative. In Germany, such a quota already exists. The total food industry must market 70% of reusable packaging.
At European level, an incentive should be developed to stimulate the use of reusable packaging, and to compel Member States to introduce it. Tax advantages on reusable packaging could be an important incentive. The introduction of a tax on disposable packaging is another possibility. Within Europe, there are also supporters of the introduction of a one-way package guarantee.
Transparent consumer information can motivate consumers to buy environmentally friendly packaging. The packaging must be clearly indicated whether it is reusable or not. Uniform labelling throughout Europe is necessary. In countries where a guarantee has been introduced on lost packaging, such as Germany, it is important that the same labelling is also introduced. Indeed, the introduction of the guarantee does not solve the ecological impact.
At the end of the conference, two awards were presented. The 'European Refillable Award' rewards an organisation that excels in the use of reusable packaging and shows how to go further. The winner was the German dairy producer BRODOWIN, who uses reusable bottles for the distribution of his fresh organic milk. In the dairy sector, the use of reusable glass bottles has become exceptional.
The second award is the 'Reusable Award'. This award recognizes organizations that have made a special effort to use reusable packaging in an activity where it is not yet used. The prize was awarded to Bayern Munich, which in its 'Allianz Arena' stadium replaced disposable cups with reusable cups. On an annual basis, 1.9 mio disposable cups were replaced, which represents a huge ecological advantage.