Businesses Can Now Provide Recyclable Takeout Food Packaging
Businesses are now able to provide recyclable takeout food packaging that is not only beneficial to the environment but also does not require a customer to make a deposit because modern computers have made this capability possible.
The restaurants rent the containers from the manufacturers, and customers can keep the containers and use them for free as long as they return them to the restaurant within a predetermined amount of time after picking up their takeout.
The restaurant puts the containers back into service after giving them a thorough cleaning. We are going to take a look at how the German company Vytal, which was one of the first to use this method, does it in this article, and we are going to learn five things from it.
The system of food packaging and delivery that we have come to rely on has a significant issue with its ability to survive in the long term. Traditional recycling and reuse programs, such as cash deposits, can lead people to believe that prices are going to increase.
Additionally, these programs are difficult to manage for food providers, and they do not give customers any incentive to return containers quickly or at all.
Up to 48% of the solid waste in urban areas and up to 26% of the garbage in marine environments can be attributed to these programs.
Disposable Food Containers from Vytal – the New Way to Takeout!
There is now a new type of recyclable takeout food packaging that is better for the environment and does not require customers to pay a deposit.
This new type of packaging was made possible by advancements in digital technology and artificial intelligence. The restaurants rent the containers from the manufacturers, and customers can keep the containers and use them for free as long as they return them to the restaurant within a predetermined amount of time after picking up their takeout.
The containers are reused at the restaurant, but not before receiving a thorough cleaning.
This new business model is being pioneered by the German start-up company Vytal. On a pay-per-use basis, it rents disposable food containers from partner suppliers to take-out restaurants.
These partner suppliers make the packaging in accordance with Vytal’s material and design specifications for the containers. We are going to analyze the process that Vytal uses and make an effort to derive five lessons from the success of the company.
Putting data to good use
In order for Vytal to keep track of its products throughout the entirety of the supply chain, it prints QR codes on the containers that its products come in.
Vytal makes use of the information in order to fine-tune its algorithm for machine learning. The algorithm then determines how many containers will be required by each partner in the network and plans the most effective routes for transporting containers throughout the system.
As a result, Vytal is better able to both manage its supply chain and satisfy the demand from the restaurants with which it partners.
An operations order is generated by the Vytal system automatically based on the algorithm’s prediction of the number of bowls and boxes of each type of container that will be required by each partner over the course of the following week.
Once the order has been placed, it is entered into the system that plans the routes, and then it is communicated to the cargo bike drivers who will be making deliveries on that particular day.
There is less of an impact on the environment when accurate and timely forecasts of the amount and type of packaging that is required, as well as robust predictions of the behavior of consumers who return products, are added.
This is due to the fact that there is a decreased requirement for spare products, improvements have been made to storage, ad hoc transportation has been eliminated, less manual labor is required at the location of the partner, and as many containers as possible are put to use.
Vytal will have an easier time figuring out how to get around as a result of this. The drivers working for Vytal make a significantly smaller number of rush deliveries and redistributions, and the company’s fleet of cargo bikes is utilized to the greatest extent possible.
Customers don’t need to wash their used containers before bringing them to any of the participating partner locations; they can just drop off their containers as is.
This helps them save both money and time, in addition to being good for the environment. Partner restaurants that use the online platform provided by Vytal are able to significantly reduce the amount of plastic packaging they use, save money on the cost of packaging materials, and gain valuable insight into the behaviors of their customers.
The natural progression of Vytal’s maturation
If Vytal wanted to expand using this business model, it needed to invest money in the following three areas: its user base (the number of end customers and restaurant partners), its online platform and data (the capabilities of the smart reusable system, as well as the ability to track product and customer behavior data), and the manufacturing of its offline product (different kinds and volumes of food containers).
In the beginning, the technology of Vytal’s platform only allowed people to check in and check out food containers by scanning QR codes. Vytral thought that it was to his advantage that it was simple and not time-consuming to use.
Cologne, Munich, and Berlin were selected as the initial three local markets to focus on. This conclusion was reached after taking into account the number of offline partners as well as the potential for online data network effects.
Customers began using Vytal’s online-to-offline platform almost immediately; however, restaurants had a more difficult time signing up for the service because they lacked access to smart devices, QR code scanners, and point-of-sale (POS) computer systems.
The pandemic in 2020 brought about various changes. It has accelerated the trend toward digitalization that is occurring in the restaurant industry, and it has increased the number of people who want restaurant food delivered to their homes.
More restaurants in Vytal’s primary cities are now able to use the company’s online platform thanks to Vytal’s efforts. As a direct consequence of this, a greater number of customers were able to make use of the service at a greater number of their preferred restaurants.
At the same time, Vytal entered into a strategic partnership with the country’s most extensive food delivery service. The company was able to increase its customer base as a result of this, which gave it more leverage in its pursuit of additional restaurant partners.
The exponential growth in the number of people using Vytal prompted the leaders of the company to begin contemplating ways in which they could make the most of the massive amounts of data that were being gathered.
Vytal has rethought its product strategy to include new varieties of food containers as well as the employment of container manufacturers from outside the company.
This is because they have started an operations team and added a team of digital engineers to build new features for their online platform. In addition, they have added a team of digital engineers to build new features for their online platform.
More than 320,000 pieces of reusable packaging have been delivered to Vytal’s partners and customers in Germany, where they now count more than 3,500 partners among their clientele.
Because of this single factor, more than 4.7 million takeout containers have been saved from being thrown away. Following the successful completion of the pilot project, a well-known fast food chain intends to implement Vytal’s online-to-offline platform across all of its locations in Germany.
important things to learn
If you want your business to expand from the online to the offline world, there are five key takeaways you should learn from Vytal’s experience:
- Begin with an activity that is straightforward. The majority of the time, buyers will initially register for a two-way platform. According to Vytal, having an easy-to-use interface makes it easier to sign up customers, but it also makes it more difficult for partners to sign up.
- Directly ensure that offline services can be relied on by putting quality assurance measures into place as soon as possible. Because investing in an offline product capability is a costly endeavor, it is essential to get it right the first time.
From the beginning, it was essential for Vytal that the bowl have a maximum lifespan of two hundred uses. It was also decided to use QR codes rather than RFID chips, which are more secure digitally but less durable physically.
This decision was made in light of the previous point. Both the microwave and the dishwasher are appropriate environments for utilizing QR codes. As a result of this, we are able to say that proof of concept has been demonstrated.
- Obtain vast amounts of information in a short amount of time.
Vytal quickly collected a sufficient amount of user information to conduct an analysis of user behavior and make modifications to both their online and offline product components in order to better satisfy the requirements of customers and partners.
They were able to accomplish this through the launch of their product in three high-density offline market environments.
In order to make users happier and encourage them to make additional purchases, the checkout process within the app was altered, and additional types of containers were added.
- Avoid going through the middle of things. It is not necessary for a platform to take part in the supply chain in any way.
Since most of the work is done directly between customers and restaurants, Vytal only needs a little over eight full-time employees to manage its 3,500 partner food providers.
- Make the most of the resources at your disposal. Because it had increased its access to production capacities in advance of the pandemic, Vytal was in a position to capitalize on the trend of restaurants shifting their business models to delivery models.
In the year 2020, there was a 12% increase in the number of containers that were used each week.
Over the course of the past two decades, significant third-party platform businesses such as Alphabet, Microsoft, and Amazon have matured to the point where they can sell a diverse array of products and manage their shipping.
However, as businesses such as Vytal come to realize the value that digital technology can bring to their particular product lines, they will be forced to develop specialized platforms in order to satisfy the requirements of their supply chains.
The plan that Vytal has laid out for them provides them with hints about how they can achieve their objective.