Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company is testing the use of reusable stainless-steel containers for its Nesquik cocoa brand in the German market. The company has partnered with Frankfurt-based startup, Circolution, a manufacturer of reusable stainless steel in rolling out the trial.
According to Nestle and Circolution’s partnership, the startup rents the reusable containers to the food manufacturer for a packing-as-a-service fee. It also takes care of the cleaning, inspection and transport and provides data for measuring ecological impacts.
Nora Bertha-Hecking, sustainability and corporate communications at Nestle Germany said, “At Nestle, we are working continuously to improve our packaging. One of our goals is to use one-third less virgin plastic by 2025 compared to 2018. Circolution offers a very concrete solution here, which we are now testing.”
Circolution’s first product and the subject of the trial is named ‘Anita in Steel’. Gas-tight sealing makes it ideal for food with a long shelf life, the start-up explained. The move aligns with the German rule that requires consumers to be offered a deposit return scheme (RDS) for beverage bottles.
All stores in Germany that sell beverages are required to take them back and return the deposit (pfand) to the customer – whether or not that person bought that beverage from them. The deposit for glass bottles is far lower – between €0.08 and €0.15 – because they can be reused.
The scheme is now being extended into other categories with the development of RDS-compatible stainless-steel containers. Just as with beverages, consumers pay a refundable deposit upon returning the empty packaging to the normal deposit machine.
“Most German supermarkets have deposit return vending machines in place. In some smaller markets, where there are no deposit return vending machines available, one can return the containers to the staff,” explains Bertha-Hecking.
Just as conventional returnable bottles are returned at machines in-store, so too can the Circolution container – except for a piece of aluminum foil that must be deposited in recycling. Circolution has clear indications that its Anita product is more environmentally friendly than disposable packaging made of glass or plastic.
After around five lifecycles, the ecological impact corresponds to that of single-use glass packaging. Since the stainless steel container has 75 more lifecycles, 75 single-use glass packaging units become superfluous, the start added.