Single-use plastics in packaging and servingware


Single-use plastics in packaging and servingware make up to 40 – 50% of the plastic products fueling the global plastic waste crisis. But according to the UNEP and other environmental organizations, their disposable alternatives are not sustainable solutions either, and make a strong case for the replacement of disposables with refill and reuse systems.


So what might these “refill and reuse systems” look like?  Will they be a return to older and traditional systems, like taking a basket to market, and the return of the milkman? The answer is yes, and emphatically no. Tech-enhanced packaging systems are using unique QR codes, blockchain-inspired technology, cashless transactions, rfid, touchless vending and user-friendly apps to build something entirely new.


Some exciting examples:


Koinpack – uses blockchain-inspired technology to replace sachet packaging in the warungs (small family-owned shops) of Indonesia. Based on a deposit-reward system, customers return the packaging for home and personal care products and receive their deposit back.


Muuse – customers download an app, the  “borrow” cups and meal containers for free, then return them to the eatery or collection bins when done.  Each cup has a unique QR code, so if it is not returned within a certain time, the customer is charged via the app. Currently operating in parts of Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada and the US.  Cupkita in Jakarta offers a similar service based on Muuse development. 


Hannoccino – Started and run by the city of Hannover,Germany,  participants buy into the Hannoccino cup program, and can use or deposit the bright red cup throughout the city.  Similarly, the Freiburg Cup programs run in Freiburg.


Repack – Reusable mailers for companies operating in Jakarta.  A software integration allows businesses to offer customers a choice to receive their order in a reusable Repack mailer, which can then be used for returns, or returned in any letterbox in the world.


Hundreds of solutions are already in operation in various parts of the world, each offering hope and viable alternatives to single-use plastic and disposables.



Upstream Solutions Global Library of Reuse Service Providers

Zero Waste Living Lab by Enviu

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