Eating & Drinking

Take away at the dining halls with a green conscience

Aachen, 16 November. As the largest social service provider in the Aachen and Jülich university area, it is important to Studierendenwerk to further develop its diverse range of services in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. One of the larger measures will be the introduction of a comprehensive reusable system in the dining halls on 18 November.

Since the start of the Corona period, dining hall meals have been sold for takeaway more frequently than usual, and it is becoming apparent that this trend will continue. To avoid the resulting disposable packaging waste, Studierendenwerk will now issue reusable containers for food and drinks to students in all dining halls. Arnold Mattes, Head of the dining department at Studierendenwerk, sees this as an important contribution to the environmentally friendly design of its nine dining halls: "The switch to a reusable system is a top priority for Studierendenwerk's dining department, and we are delighted to be able to launch this project together with the students. This is a trend-setting signal and can only be the beginning of sustainable university dining."

Students in favor of reusable solution
The new reusable dishes is borrowed via app without guests having to pay a deposit. That is why the system from Munich-based Relevo is used. "We think the deposit-free solution on a rental basis is a very good solution," says Mattes. "However, we also know that success, as with any other reusable system, requires guests to be environmentally conscious. This is ultimately crucial."

The fact that most of the current 4,000 or so student dining hall guests have this environmental awareness is well known by the RWTH General Student Committee (AStA RWTH), which has helped bringing the reusable system forward. A survey conducted last year made it clear that sustainability is also a big issue among students themselves. "Our survey showed that 95 percent of the students surveyed would like to see a reusable system. We are very happy that this is now happening," said Maxime Metzler, sustainability project manager at AStA. Her department was involved right from the beginning, and valuable support is now available for the introduction process: AStA is accompanying the launch with, among other things, an instructional video by students for students to help with the first steps.

Simple handling
And this is how the reusable system is supposed to work: Students download the Relevo app in advance and register. To borrow, they scan the QR code on the dishes and take the container filled with food home with them. Within a 14-day loan period, they can return the empty dishware to the return desk and end the loan by scanning a return QR code on the dishes. To avoid missing the return deadline, the system sends an email reminder before it expires. A certain liability is created by having to pay a late fee as soon as the borrowed item is not returned on time. In this way, a very high return rate is achieved, making the system particularly sustainable. Other advantages: Relevo dishes are made of 100 percent recyclable plastic, it is BPA-free, dishwasher and microwave safe, and leakproof and unbreakable.

The Relevo company is established nationwide with its system. The app solution is now used particularly frequently in university dining halls. Experience shows that the acceptance of returns is extremely high, especially among students, reports David Winkler, Key Account Manager at Relevo. "Now we are looking forward to the successful partnership with Studierendenwerk Aachen and the saving of disposable waste. With our smart reusable solution, we are now offering the more than 60,000 students the opportunity to enjoy takeaway food with a green conscience, and are thus taking a step towards zero waste."

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Instruction video from AStA of RWTH Aachen

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