We’re nearly free of plastic

The canteens in Holzminden are gradually switching from plastic bottles and food containers to reusable products. This means canteen head Matthias Hamann is following the sustainability strategy of Symrise in an additional area.

In the beginning, there was the coffee cup. This item provoked discussions about reducing disposable packaging – including at Symrise in Holzminden. The transition to reusable cups followed in 2019. Now it’s the food containers’ and drink bottles’ turn: Plans are being fueled by the restrictions in place to combat the pandemic. Among them is the restriction on visitors to canteens, since food can only be picked up and taken out. “This led me to look for ecological alternatives to polystyrene containers,” says Kitchen Manager Matthias Hamann. At first, bagasse containers were an acceptable choice. These are made from material left over from sugar cane processing. “But I want to use reusable containers over the long term,” Matthias emphasizes, since that would mean nothing would be thrown away any more. This aim corres­ponds with the sustainability strategy of Symrise. Matthias finally chose Vytal, a provider of digital reuse systems for the catering sector.

We are doing everything we can to operate as sustainably as possible.“

Matthias Hamann, Kitchen Manager

Since last August, the takeout business has used Vytal plastic containers. The response has been very strong, and demand continues to grow. People just need a personal code that they get through an app, as well as the container’s code. A connection is made as soon as both have been scanned. At this point, customers have done everything they need to, and they have two weeks to return the box. “We’ve already restocked our inventory twice,” says Matthias. What’s important, aside from the sustainability aspect, is that the system is easy to use. Matthias: “We distribute on average nearly 60 percent of all meals in these containers per day – and starting in the early spring, we will only offer this reusable system.” Anyone who wants to can eat their meal on regular plates in the area outside the canteen. If they’d rather take it to eat somewhere else, they use the boxes.

Matthias also wants to switch over completely to plastic-free beverage containers. “We’ve asked our vending machine operator to convert the machines by this spring,” says the canteen head. He’s proud that he can now provide exclusively glass bottles, with only one exception. “We’re really almost plastic-free, and we’re doing everything we can to operate as sustainably as possible.” This applies to food purchasing as well as packaging.

It’s simple: download the app, register, and record each use with the scan code. This has already saved more than 10,000 disposable packages in recent months.

All the UN Sustainability Objectives are in the SymPortal:

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