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Refillable lunch boxes and cups prevent mountains of waste

Too much waste damages the environment. The Refiller Community project wants to curb this problem by enabling people to buy take-away meals and drinks in reusable boxes and cups.

There are already takeaways in Berne and Basel that are working together with the Refiller association.

"It's always better if there's no waste. Waste prevention, waste reduction and refilling are the way forward." This is the motto of the Refiller association, which was founded in 2011 and has set up the Refiller Community project. This community consists of refill-friendly take-away outlets. In order to say they are refill-friendly, these outlets must want to prevent waste and offer a refill alternative. "But traders don't have to avoid all single-use packaging," says João Almeida, who is managing the project. It's more important that customers have the option of receiving lunch boxes instead of single-use plastic containers, and can have these refilled each day. If you go to a takeaway with a refill box or cup, you'll get a discount on your food and drink. In this way, refilling avoids the use of plastic bottles, cardboard cups, disposable plastic containers and disposable plastic cutlery. Takeaways that provide a refill service can join the association if they want to become part of the Refiller Community. Reactions to the project indicate that most people support the idea. Towns, cities and local communities are also interested in the project, since refilling reduces littering. But some sceptical voices can still be heard. "Refilling takes more effort than throwing away. You've got to wash out the boxes and cups at home or in the office," says Almeida. This isn't a concept that many people have yet come to terms with.

 

Refill-friendly takeaways already exist in Berne and Basel

The first official Refiller takeaway is the Prima Luna bistro in Berne, where lunch boxes and cups can also be purchased on the premises. The idea of founding a take-away network first came to light back in October 2010, with Prima Luna getting involved in May 2012. "We wanted to found a network of waste-free takeaways from the word go, but we didn't have the necessary experience," says Almeida. A friend then made him aware of Prima Luna. But it's not just in Berne that consumers have the opportunity of refilling. Kaffee-Mobil in Basel offers a refill service for coffee and other drinks. There are also plans to make Basel University refill-friendly. Additional takeaways and shops are also planned for Zurich with the same objective – stemming the harmful impact that unnecessary waste has on our environment. Refiller was also present at the "Das Festival" music festival in Schaffhausen (8-12 August 2012).

 

From exhibition to association

The Refiller idea originated at the "ELAYS" EUforIA event held in Geneva in October 2010. This event addressed the issue of people tackling social problems themselves. EUforIA stands for Europeans United for Informed Action. Almeida, who has studied economics and sustainable development, got to know Stefanie Derungs at this exhibition. Neither of them could understand why fast food and drink had to generate so much waste. As a result, they founded Refiller. The association has a total of six permanent members of staff, most of whom work on a voluntary basis. They all have other jobs in agriculture, the food industry or sustainable development. The aim of the project is for society to generate less waste in the future, and for products and materials to have a longer lifespan.