The Search for the Perfect Container

When we started Recirclable, we had no idea how much time we would spend researching and testing containers. Finding the perfect reusable container is really unexpectedly tough! There are so many requirements that need to be met, it can feel like a daunting and elusive goal!

Stackable, Durable, Leakproof, Lightweight, Inert, Dishwasher Safe, Oven Safe, Microwave Safe, Locally and Responsibly Made, Appropriately Sized and more...

What is really needed are reusable container standards - the way it used to be when milk, beer and other drinks came in reusable bottles that were washed, sanitized and refilled.

Until standardization becomes the norm again, we need to keep our eye on the real prize: eliminating single use packaging waste wherever possible. Reuse beats single use ALWAYS!

Over the course of our Recirclable journey, we have had the good fortune of connecting with reuse programs operating at scale in Europe. We spoke with and tested established programs in both France and Germany, to gain the benefit of their experience. Through this and our own early experimentation, we tested many containers of all materials, shapes, sizes and styles - more than we ever imagined! 

What did we learn?

To see some of the important and emerging work being done to help identify sustainable container choices over the full lifecycle, from manufacturing and transportation through end-of-life, see The Understanding Packaging (UP) Scorecard. And for a great detailed report on why reuse wins on all metrics, see Upstream Solution’s “Reuse Wins” report!

This is a tough problem, decades in the making… takeout is not alone in this problem (see this New York Times article on the challenges in the wine industry) and while we wait for standards and infrastructure to emerge, we need to be agile, experimental and adaptive. Reusing any type of container hundreds of times is always better than our current throwaway culture.

Please support your local restaurants and reuse service providers (there are many popping up all over the US!), and help to shift the mindset from single use to reuse.

Any way is a better way than throw away….! ‍