The clean solution


    A proper cup at the bakery


    Billions of disposable cups inundate cities with rubbish and waste huge amounts of resources. While few reusable solutions are on offer for customers. However, an increasing number of cities and solution providers are beginning to deal with this serious problem.

    "Coffee to go" is becoming more and more a "no go".

    Consumers are more aware when it comes to waste prevention. In Germany alone, an unbelievable three billion disposable cups are used each year. Michael Andresen sees that as causing mounting pressure that is so strong it will lead to change: "Next year we will see a solution to the supply and demand situation regarding reusable cups for coffee-to-go purposes. If reusable solutions are designed properly, then consumers will use them."

    The founder and owner of the company "cup&more - Andresen Mehrweglogistik" in Bad Segeberg knows what he is talking about. As a provider of reusables logistics in non-food catering, he handed out business cards at the football World Cup in Stuttgart, where he washed 1.5 million reusable cups. At the Hamburg Bakers' Guild, Andresen also presented a returnable cup solution suited for bakeries.

    photo Michael Andresen
    Michael Andresen, Photo: Guido Karp

    Two solutions for bakeries

    The concept envisages two approaches: bakeries can either offer their customers a cup for a deposit or sell them a favourite cup of their own. "Of course I know about the hygiene concerns when a customer brings a coffee cup to be filled," says Michael Andresen. Nevertheless, refilling cups at the bakery counter is permitted despite the liability risk for distributors according to the Product Safety Act (ProdSG) and despite the Food, Commodities and Feed Code (LFGB). "In the meantime, almost all federal states have passed a recommendation for filling reusable containers with hot drinks - Bavaria is following suit," says Michael Andresen.

    Michael Andresen has long since answered open questions such as deposit settlement, replacement, central cleaning, etc. and developed viable solutions. "We support bakeries by providing reusable systems, consultation and assistance at the point of sale by offering a control system for centrally calculating deposits and by making available our idea pool as well as providing know how transfer." Proof that he and his team can manage those challenges was demonstrated in 2017 when the company won the Schleswig-Holstein Sustainability Prize.


    In the meantime cup&more is also talking to local authorities: "Most of the time people in the waste management industry are the ones who get the ball rolling. Collecting and disposing of discarded cups is very expensive.“ Some municipalities actually have their own. Like in Freiburg, where they have the "Freiburg Cup". Four months after introducing deposit coffee cups, the results were positive in the view of waste management and the city cleaning department of Freiburg. In September 2018, 27,000 cups were in circulation. And what began with 14 cafés and bakeries at the start has now become 112 coffee shops, bakeries and ice cream parlors. Representative of cafés and restaurants confirmed that the ecological initiative of the Freiburg Cup has reached many to-go customers. Nevertheless, it is necessary for employees to pitch the idea to coffee drinkers. Michael Andresen shares this view: "If the process does not run as simply and smoothly as possible for the staff, then a reusable system cannot work. Andresen is confident: "In a few years people will be ashamed to be seen walking down the street with a disposable cup."

    Facts and figures

    According to estimates by the German Environmental Aid (DUH), 2.8 billion disposable cups are currently used and thrown away nationwide every year. That translates into 320,000 cups an hour. Every year, disposable cups alone generate around 40,000 tons of waste in Germany. For municipalities, that means 6 to 17 percent of litter (pollution of surfaces and spaces by rubbish that is carelessly thrown away) is caused exclusively by disposable cups.

    The quick enjoyment of coffee also means a resource consumption (for the cups) of 1.5 billion litres of water and 43,000 trees (64,000 tons of wood) for the 29 tons of paper - in one year. According to DUH, manufacturing the number of coffee-to-go cups used annually in Berlin (170 million cups per year) requires the same amount of energy that could provide electricity for approximately 6,100 homes for one year and save about 87 million litres of water.

    "It goes without saying that hygiene is an absolute must!"

    Dietmar Zapf is responsible for the Global Key Account Management at MEIKO and is also responsible for customers in the bakery industry. The Splash editorial team talked to him about special solutions for bakers, sustainability and how to set a standard.

    Sustainability is one of the values that MEIKO has designated as a foundation for the company philosophy. How can you support bakers who want to change their coffee cups from disposable to reusable?

    Dietmar Zapf:
    Of course, reusable solutions are inconceivable without dishwashing technology. Those who avoid rubbish for sustainability reasons will consequently also look for a sustainable solution when cleaning the dishes. Our M-iClean U offers bakeries and cafés a solution that dovetails perfectly with this philosophy. Extremely economical resource use combined with usability in a design that supports functionality. It goes without saying that hygiene is an absolute must for us - we have stood for cleaning and disinfection technology for 90 years. This means that strict hygiene requirements are very familiar to us thanks to our customers in the healthcare industry.

    What if the volume of the dishes is really large and an undercounter dishwashing machine is no longer sufficient?

    Dietmar Zapf:
    Then the advantages of our innovative products continue seamlessly with the M-iClean H in the background of the salesroom, gastronomy or production. Our M-iClean H with automatic hood opening is only a few months old and sets the standard in working and operating comfort for hood type dishwashing machines.

    Hygiene aspects of refilling customer-brought coffee-to-go cups

    A survey conducted by the Deutsche Umwelthilfe among hygiene authorities and coffee-to-go providers shows that the filling of reusable cups is legally permitted and a common practice. Deutsche Umwelthilfe publishes a hygiene guide on refilling.

    The food hygiene regulation does not prohibit the refilling of reusable cups. Any adverse influence on other foodstuffs behind the service counter must be ruled out by clear rules.

    "The offer of uniform reusable deposit cups by coffee house chains is completely unproblematic. Those who fill the reusable coffee cups at home and drinks their coffee on the go also reduces the use of disposable cups, without hygienic problems ensuing," says Thomas Fischer, the DUH head of recycling economy.

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    Environmental Action Germany (DUH) has compiled a fact sheet with instructions to support restaurateurs in filling reusable cups.

     Cup and more eco-friendly mug

    Recommendations for coffee-to-go suppliers for unproblematic hygienic filling of customer-brought reusable cups in retail trade and gastronomy

    1. Get advice from your local food safety authority.
    2. Visually inspect cups for cleanliness and foreign objects. Lids must be removed and stored by the customer.
    3. Only fill empty cups.
    4. In case of possible soiling, disinfect the cups with hot water, hot steam and a suitable cleaning agent.
    5. If you wish to sell reusable cups (and thus encourage use of reusable cups in your business), offer cups made of material that is smooth and easy to clean (e.g. stainless steel, porcelain, glass, enamel).
    6. Adjust the coffee machine so that the cup does not touch the filling spout. Do not touch any other pots or utensils with the reusable cup.
    7. Make sure that the surface on which the brought along cups are placed is cleaned and disinfected regularly.
    8. Ideally, this surface should be located outside your shop's hygiene area. It is possible to place the cup on the counter top of the sales counter, or in the self-service area.
    9. If it is not permitted to fill the cup behind the counter, a separate filling receptacle can be used. This must be cleaned after use, e.g., with a rinsing sponge or a dishwashing brush.
    10.  Filling the brought along cups using cup holders facilitates hygienic filling as there is no direct cup contact.
    11.  Wash your hands after filling the brought along cups, as you would after taking money.
    12.  Filling privately brought reusable cups in a hygienically flawless way must be part of regular staff training.
    13.  Document your work processes when filling privately brought reusable cups as proof for the responsible authorities of hygienically flawless handling.

    Legal basis: EC Regulation 852/2004 on food hygiene and German Food Hygiene Regulations (LMHV).