Since the beginning of 2023, restaurants have been obliged to provide leftover food and drink in reusable containers. What about your own Tupperware?
Kassel – Too large portions or lack of hunger: In restaurants, it is particularly annoying when there is a lot of food left over. What remains on the plate is often thrown away. Restaurants have therefore been obliged since 2023 to offer the take-away of leftovers in reusable containers.
Food and drink must be offered to take away
The reusable obligation was introduced in January 2023 to reduce the amount of waste generated by single-use plastic packaging. According to the Federal Ministry for the Environment, this resulted in 770 tonnes of waste per day – more than 280,000 tonnes of waste per year. Since 2021, disposable polystyrene cups and containers may no longer be given to-go. Plastic plates and cutlery are also a no-go. The reusable obligation that arose in 2023 expanded these regulations.
Single-use plastic packaging should be a thing of the past – restaurants must offer reusable packaging. © Oleksandr Latkun/Imago (symbolic image)
According to the consumer advice centre, this obligation applies "to all catering establishments that offer food for immediate consumption in single-use plastic." These include, among other things, menu trays and boxes made of plastic. Disposable beverage containers are also not exempt from this obligation. On request, the reusable containers must be available and used as an alternative to disposable containers. It is important to note that the food offered must not become more expensive by taking it with you in reusable packaging. Only a deposit can be levied on the reusable packaging, which will be refunded upon return.
Can I take food from a restaurant in Tupperware?
If restaurant guests do not want to receive disposable or reusable packaging, they may even be able to take food and drink with them in their own Tupperware.
For smaller companies, with a maximum of five employees and 80 square meters of retail space, there is no obligation to provide their own containers. However, you must accept the Tupperware you have brought with you. Larger restaurants don't have to, but they are allowed to. The responsibility for hygiene is borne by the companies until the time of delivery.
Companies are also obliged to refer to the reusable offer. Greenpeace even created a portal where violations of it can be reported.
Reusable containers should by no means be thrown away and replaced after a few uses. Compared to disposable packaging, the carbon footprint is only positive after ten to 15 uses. The consumer advice centre also criticises the fact that "the new requirement only applies to single-use plastic containers and not to all single-use materials. If you fill in disposable aluminium or cardboard, you don't have to change anything." Restaurant guests are also encouraged to actively use the reusable offer, as not all establishments comply with their obligation to provide information.