Information to customers: Questions and answers
1. Why did you choose plastic boxes and mugs?
The boxes and mugs in the project are plastic because it is the best option from a user and an environmental perspective. They can be used for many years and washed at least 1000 times. They are fully recyclable once they have served their lifetime. The boxes and mugs themselves are not made of recycled plastic since recycled plastic is not allowed for storage of food. The same products in glass are heavy and difficult to stack, metal boxes are expensive and cannot be used in microwave ovens. Another alternative is mugs or drawers in composite material (often with a small amount of wood in plastic) but it is a material that is not recyclable unless you have a special recycling system.
Most of the food boxes are manufactured in Sweden at a factory that has a strong focus on sustainability and energy savings. They comply with the REACH directives and all EU directives on plastics.
The mugs are made in Germany in a factory that is environmentally certified and works with a well-developed and energy-efficient process.
2. How eco-friendly are reusable items compared to disposable ones?
Disposable items are discarded after only one use and often they do not go to recycling but to incineration. Calculated over one year of use with a coffee consumption of 3 times a week, a disposable cup (cardboard cup with fossil-based polyethylene on the inside) has a three times higher climate impact than a stainless steel thermos cup and six times higher than a cup made of bamboo material.
The same reasoning applies to boxes as well. The results are obviously affected by what type of disposable item is compared to what type of reusable item.
The bulk of the disposable items' climate impact comes from the production of raw materials, waste management and to some extent transport.
3. How often should they be used before having positive environmental effects?
Obviously, it is important that multiple-use alternatives are actually used several times. For the example above, the bamboo mug needs to be used about 15 times and the thermos mug about 45 times for it to pay off in terms of climate, compared to the corresponding number of coffee in disposable mugs. Drinking on-the-go coffee three times a week means that the bamboo mug needs to be used for 5 weeks and the thermos mug for 15 weeks.
In terms of the entire life cycle, it takes more energy and materials to produce the reusable items than to make the disposable items. But since the reusable items last longer, it makes up for the consumption in time.
Washing the reusable items has an impact, as well as transporting them over long distances.
4. Are the different plastic materials recycled when the articles are submitted?
Yes, when the articles have become obsolete they can be recycled to 100 percent.
5. How should I wash the mug/food box as environmentally friendly as possible? For example, with hot water and detergent?
In our project, the restaurants and cafes will wash the mugs and boxes. You just need to make sure the box is fresh enough to bring it back.
Washing gives an environmental impact, only rinsing with cold water when possible reduces the environmental impact further.
6. Can the food box/mug be used in the microwave, oven or freezer?
The mugs / boxes can be used in the microwave and in the freezer. They are not oven proof.
7. How do you use my data in the project, or outside (in the long term)?
All data is aggregated, and no personal information is collected.
8. Where can I find more environmental information about the products?
You can find more about the mugs and the digital return system at https://loopit.se/and about the boxes at https://www.nordiskaplast.se/sv/. More on environmental calculations can be found, for example, in a report from IVL by Johannesson and others, 2019.