Cumulus Green 2024

Honorable Mention

RE:ME – reuse return recycle

Catherine Wolter

Universität der Künste Berlin, Germany

40% of the waste on the street is caused by disposable food packaging. In Germany alone, 770 T of takeaway packaging is generated every day. The largest share is accounted by packaging made of expanded polystyrene. Therefore, from July 2021 on, the EU Commission has introduced a regulation banning polystyrene food packaging. Plastics consisting of microparticles, such as polystyrene, are particularly difficult to dispose of. They break down into tiny particles and are easily released into the environment.

RE:ME is a reusable solution for expanded polystyrene food packaging and all other disposable containers. The box is made of a mono-material, designed to make recycling processes easier.

It consists of a layered wall system. The outside is made of a food safe, high transparent, colour, odour, and taste neutral, chemical resistant, tough PPSU Plastic (BASF Ultrason). PPSU particle foam is sandwiched in the middle which is mainly used in transportation design and has great insulation properties. The different material properties allow, among others, to store hot and cold food and maintain their temperature. In addition, it can endure temperatures as low as -40 and +180 degrees, which allows it to be used in the fridge, freezer, oven, or microwave. The material supports a long lifespan and saves enormous amounts of resources, as it can be sterilised around 1000-1500 times before being recycled.

RE:ME can be developed into a wider system. The rectangular shape not only allows the most efficient use of volume, but also a wide range of food – from pasta to sushi, from burritos to soups. In addition, the concept can be thought further including different variations of boxes to include an even wider range of food varieties.

RE:ME promotes a single system for reusable food packaging in a city, state or country, that can be used by any type of restaurant and any type of food. This makes the system more consumer friendly and people are more likely to be encouraged to participate.

It is important to think differently about food, resources, materials and systems and use them in the most efficient way to create environmental changes for the future.