ReCircle is a reuse system for takeaway food and drink. They sell reusable products, including boxes, bowls and cups, to partner restaurants, who then sell and buy back boxes from customers.
ReCircle sells reusable boxes, bowls and cups made from PBT GF 30 to partner restaurants, who pay a fee for membership and the right to buy, sell and return boxes
Partner restaurants then sell and buy back boxes from customers for about $10. Damaged boxes are sent back to reCircle and reCircle then deducts the deposit from their next invoice.
Customers can buy and return boxes to 1,200 participating locations all over Switzerland.
ReCircle has cups, bowls and plates in several sizes. All reCircle containers are made from 30% glass fiber reinforced polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), and cup and container lids are made from Polypropylene (PP). There is no silicone rim to avoid problems with washing. ReCrircle containers are leak proof, microwave safe, dishwasher safe and stackable.
ReCircle cups were developed with coffee providers to be shatterproof and scratch resistant. They are ergonomic, easy to clean, have drainage channels for quick drying and are dishwasher safe for at least 400 uses. Cups do not have a straw option, but work for both hot and cold drinks.
All ReCircle containers are aubergine-colored, but partner locations can order customized containers that are other colors and have the company logo printed on the lid.
ReCircle handles recycling of all products. They send them back to their producer where the material of the old containers is used to produce new containers. All products are sent climate-neutral with the Swiss Post.
Plastic was chosen as the material for containers after considering several other materials: glass easily breaks, aluminum and steel are not microwave friendly, get hot when filled with hot food or drink, and not everyone likes to eat out of a metal container, and wood has hygiene and drying problems.
The ReCircle model needs minimum involvement from ReCircle. ReCircle sells containers to participating restaurants so that they have a stock of them. When a customer wants to use a ReCircle container, they pay a deposit for it, as if purchasing it from the restaurant. The container is now owned by the customer, but the customer can sell back their container for the same price to any participating restaurant or café and buy a clean one. Restaurants are responsible for the washing of their reusables, but this can also be done by the customer (with a refill system), and is occasionally organized elsewhere.
Customers can also exchange heavily-used containers for new containers at participating restaurants. Restaurants then send broken containers back to ReCircle. ReCircle deducts the deposit for the containers from their next invoice, or, if they return without ordering, the balance is refunded on their bank account.
ReCircle provides staff training and workshops if needed.
A low loss rate is expected, as the deposit is high. However, many customers keep the box and refill it.
ReCircle has grown to a network of 1,200 partners in less than four years. Use of ReCircle products is not tracked, but use could be up to 50,000 products per day.