11 April 2019

Towards a “reusables” canteen

METRO bans conventional plastics from canteens

METRO promotes employee awareness about plastics reduction and is switching to sustainable “to-go” packaging in the canteens on the METRO campus in Düsseldorf.

Graphik Plasticfighter

METRO is aware of its own responsibility in the field of reducing plastics and is therefore pushing ahead with the METRO Plastics Initiative. The wholesaler is committed to reducing plastics along the entire supply chain and is determined to reduce its plastics footprint: By 2025, conventional disposable plastics are to be replaced by reusable, recyclable or compostable alternatives and the transition to a closed-circle plastics economy will be promoted.


Since 2014, METRO has been working on optimising the packaging of its own-brand products and has already been able to save 400 tonnes of packaging material. By the end of 2023, a further 300 tonnes of plastic packaging are to be saved as a result of the optimisation initiative. As part of the global commitment to the New Plastics Economy launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, METRO is also committed to creating a new standard for plastic packaging.

METRO employees also play a decisive role in reducing the use of plastics. In order to raise awareness of the need to reduce plastics throughout the company, campus catering in Düsseldorf has turned its back on conventional plastics and switched to sustainable single-use packaging in the canteens in March 2019. In the medium term, single-use packaging will be banned completely.


More than 350 polystyrene containers used to be distributed on average within one week in the two canteens on the Düsseldorf campus as a “to-go” option. In addition there were plastic containers to take away salads or desserts. Now disposable containers made of sugar cane and corn starch have moved into the canteens as plastic alternatives. But they are only the first step. It is the declared goal of campus catering not to have to hand out any more packaging in the medium term, but to switch to reusable solutions.

New lunchbox at METRO canteen
Lunch Box

The about 5,000 employees of the Düsseldorf campus are now called upon to bring their own reusable containers to lunch. It is worth bringing one’s own container, because since 15 March, a sustainability contribution of 50 cents has been levied on all disposable food packaging in the company restaurants on campus. 50% of this contribution will go directly to the Pacific Garbage Screening (PGS) project. The idea, developed by the Aachen architect Marcella Hansch, is to rid the seas and rivers of plastics in the near future. From 1 May, METRO will also extend the sustainability contribution to include disposable coffee cups, which are distributed in the Rioba Café Bar on campus. Here, too, the reusable alternative is to be promoted: a deposit system that uses 100% climate-neutral porcelain coffee mugs with a lid made of plastic elastomer. 

With these initiatives, METRO supports the political efforts against increasing amounts of plastic waste. The EU Commission’s Plastics Strategy, for example, is focusing on banning disposable items such as plastic straws and demands that all plastic packaging on the EU market must be recyclable by 2030.


Since 1 January 2019, a new Packaging Act has been in force in Germany with the aim of avoiding packaging waste and strengthening recycling. In November 2018, Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze also presented a Five-Point Plan to combat superfluous plastic waste and increase recycling. The aim is to avoid unnecessary plastic, make packaging more environmentally friendly, strengthen recycling, promote the organic bin and intensify the fight against marine waste. The German Federal Parliament has made a total of 50 million euros available for this purpose in the 2019 budget.

METRO Sustainable coffee mugs

Related Articles