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  • Ilkka Puikkonen

Kamupak's circular packaging system enables waste-free world

In many countries, single-use plastic packaging has already been completely banned and has been replaced by e.g. wood-based or biodegradable materials. However, these do not reduce the amount of waste and their production reduces the world's natural resources. According to Kamupak's calculations, about 2.8% of the world's trees are cut down to make disposable cardboard coffee cups. According to an article by The Guarian, more than 50% of the waste that ends up in nature is waste from take-away dining.

Fortunately, more and more attention has been paid to the burden on nature caused by take-away, and reuse has been found to be the most effective way to reduce waste caused by single-use packaging. This has been found e.g. by the EU Commission, which has started preparing a regulation on increasing reuse in the HoReCa segment. The goal is to replace disposable containers with reusable and durable containers and reduce the amount of packaging waste by 37% by 2040.

The circular economy only works if the products return to circulation

Reasonable criticism has also been presented regarding reuse. Currently, reusable containers are mainly made of PP plastic. PP is a 100% recyclable material, but e.g. the durable containers used in take-away should return to circulation and end up being recycled at the end of their life cycle, to enable so-called closed loop. The carbon bound to the plastic therefore does not end up in nature, but instead circulates in the reuse process. According to data obtained from Kamupak's backend system, 90% of reusable containers are returned to circulation within 5 days thanks to the digital deposit and borrow system. The goal is a 100% return rate, but we hope that the non-returnable dishes end up for personal use - and not as waste.

The deposit system is a critical part of the reuse

In many countries in Europe, consumers are used to using the deposit system, e.g. for return bottles. When purchasing the product, a deposit is paid and it will be returned upon return. The deposit system works really well, especially when it is easy for consumers to return the products. The wide spread of reusable durable containers requires an ecosystem formed by operators, including easily accessible return points for consumers, as well as the washing and logistics of reusable containers. Kamupak is building a circular economy ecosystem together with its partners, so that reuse could quickly expand to grocery stores, events, ice rinks, airports, amusement parks and other places where takeaway food is a large part of consumer services.

In addition to the deposit system, a so-called borrow model is also being introduced by Kamupak, where a deposit is not paid for a durable container upon purchase, but the container is borrowed. If the container is not returned to circulation at the end of the loan period, the consumer pays a "penalty fee". The borrow model works well, for example, in connection with larger one-off purchases and the purchase of several products, in which case the deposit payments do not become too high from the consumers' point of view. Kamupak is the only reuse operator providing both deposit and borrow systems for customers and users.

Reuse is a paradigm shift

Since 2018, Kamupak has been doing pioneering work to increase the circular economy and solve the waste problem. We have now moved to the stage where the reuse concept has been found to work. Feedback from partners, customers and consumers has been excellent. Without these early adopters and advocates of the circular economy, creating a new operating method and paradigm shift would not be possible. The change needs a change of attitude by both consumers and companies and industry associations, but also legislation to speed up the change. Fortunately, with the EU's Green Deal agreement and the new reuse regulations, the EU is driving the change to a more waste-free world in Europe.

On top of Kamupak's existing network of restaurant partners and together with other circular economy operators, it is easy to start building a scalable business and an easy way for consumers to act responsibly, saving natural resources. And above all, it significantly affects the reduction of the amount of waste in the world with the help of the circular economy revolution.


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