HomePackaging and MOCAEncouraging the reuse of food containers, the PLEF Manifesto

Encouraging the reuse of food containers, the PLEF Manifesto

PLEF (Planet Life Economy Foundation) invites businesses and citizens to adhere to the Manifesto to encourage the reuse of food containers (and not only), and to sign the petition addressed to political decision makers.

The gaps of an administrative, fiscal and health nature hinder the full expression of the great potential of virtuous circuits of reuse and upcycling (virtuous recovery) of materials, which are also of great relevance in the food sector.

The Manifesto for the reuse of containers

The poster was born from the commitment of PLEF, Giacimenti Urbani and PCUP in the work of raising awareness and proposing solutions relating to the issue of reuse. A fundamental piece of the sustainable economy.

Creators of the initiative are the founders of RiC – Resta in Circolo, the permanent reuse table born in November 2021 with Giacimenti Urbani as lead partner together with Pcup and Planet Life Economy Foundation. To support it are the University of Milano Bicocca, the Consortium of Food Distributors and the Association of Virtuous Municipalities.

Reuse of the packaging, the unsolved points

Il the packaging disposable still represents 36% of waste in the EU. Most of this waste is not managed properly and less than 40% of the materials are recycled. However, reversing the course is difficult due to administrative, fiscal and health gaps.

Full implementation of the objective reuse in fact postulates the solution of some critical issues that concern in particular the B2C distribution (business to consumers), through interventions along the entire supply chain suggested in the Manifesto, with the following recommendations.

1 - Production

To shrink progressively the possibility of placing disposable containers on the market by replacing them with reusable containers, possibly produced with recycled materials. Encourage this management transformation with incentives on the purchase and use of these reusable containers.

2 - Transformation

Favor with tax concessions and with the identification of specific budget ratios, the maximum dematerialization of production processes, thus reducing the quantity of materials placed on the market.

To encouragemoreover, the gradual transition from the packaging disposable to specific equipment or reusable containers.

3 - Distribution (GDO, HORECA, public businesses)

Favor with tax concessions and the identification of specific balance sheet ratios, the transformation of the set-ups of the sales surfaces by limiting the sale of products with the packaging disposable and expanding the areas dedicated to the bulk serving of dry and liquid products.

While, promote the dissemination and sale of reusable containers with the relative collection and accreditation of deposits, where appropriate.

Purpose The obligation to include the cost of the container on the receipt in the businesses they do is also useful takeaway and, in the long term, the obligation to propose alternatives to disposable products.

4 - Consumers

Favor their proactive involvement with communication campaigns for the promotion of bulk products and the progressive elimination of disposable products, networking all the realities that operate in this sense, and highlighting the objectives of the 2030 Agenda and the SUP directive (Single-Use-Plastic).

Awareness raising of the consumer-actor on these issues, will represent the basic lever for the effective transformation of transformation and distribution companies.

5 - Collection, recycling and disposal of waste

The progressive implementation of these actions will lead to a progressive decrease in overall waste, in line with the first option - Cut Back - in the so-called waste hierarchy.

Regulatory intervention and following the best practices

On the subject of containers reusable in retail shops / GDO points of sale and public establishments, the legislation is sparse.

In Italy the only real regulatory reference is the 'Climate decree' of 2019, which regulates the methods of use by the consumer of 'own containers'for the removal of food products, implicitly demonstrating that this practice is allowed. (1)

Further and more recent recall a reusable containers in place of disposable ones appear in the guidelines of the European Commission for the application of the SUP directive. (2)

Such indications generic require a single act that shapes the entire matter with respect to the issues of food safety and hygiene, facilitations for administrative and fiscal management, as well as, finally, incentives, in a logic of minimum bureaucracy and maximum implementation simplification .

Three areas of intervention

The signatories of the Manifesto for reuse indicate the most urgent issues to be addressed:

- food safety. We need to overcome the role of controller hitherto held by the authorities responsible for food safety and hygiene and invite them to play a proactive role in defining clear and comprehensive rules on the use of reusable containers. Today the only provision on the matter concerns the conditions for reuse of the container supplied by the consumer, in the aforementioned Climate decree,

- administration. There is a need for clarity on the correct management of financial, accounting and tax flows of deposits (the void to return), in particular with respect to VAT treatment,

- incentives. The measures to support the sale of products in bulk or on tap (pursuant to Article 7 of the Climate Decree) are modest and exclude public establishments, such as bars and restaurants. An organic framework and strategy are needed to promote and facilitate the 'reusable', also for example by operating on VAT.

How to join the PLEF Manifesto for reuse

The first signatories of the Reuse Manifesto are Urban Fields, Pcup, Planet Life Economy Foundation ETS, University of Milano Bicocca, Food Distributors Consortium, Virtuous Municipalities Association, Legambiente Lombardia and Ecor Naturasì, and the benefit company WIISE Srl which manages this site among other things websites.

-> Each company is invited to participate, filling in the application form.

-> Citizens they can in turn subscribe to the petition addressed to the Italian government and parliament, so that they have guidelines and implementing decrees.


(1) See art. 7 of the decree-law 14 October 2019, n. 111, converted with amendments by Law 12 December 2019, n. 141 (so-called climate decree)

(2) The European Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2022/162 of 4 February 2022, which establishes the methods of application of the "SUP Directive", indicates among the measures to achieve a reduction in the consumption of disposable cups or glasses for beverages and of disposable food containers, the promotion of reusable alternatives to these types of disposable containers, starting from specific contexts such as public offices, workplaces, major events.

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".

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