Reusable tableware in restaurants? In practice, it turns out that in some places the Waste Law has not yet been implemented. In any case, the rules introduced at the beginning of the year have a limited effect thanks to exceptions – unlike what is expected to be the case in 2025.
Anyone who eats out during their lunch break or decides to drop in at a fast food joint on the weekend may have asked themselves the question: Has there not been any mention of obligatory reusable plates, cutlery and glasses?
The answer is a basic yes. The 2022 reformed Waste Act states: "As of January 1st, 2023, restaurants are required to provide their meals and beverages consumed within their establishment in reusable cups, glasses, mugs, including lids […], plates and containers, and with reusable cutlery."
But the appearance of clarity falls apart on closer inspection. More precisely, when one looks at the definitions ‒ what is a restaurant, what does reusable mean? ‒ and the exemptions. One could also say: if the devil is in the detail, then waste legislation is a franchise from hell.
One person who has been intensively involved in the matter in recent months is Georges Eischen. He is the managing partner at La Provençale and president of the Luxembourgish food distribution federation FLAD, which counts the food wholesaler among its members. One of the crucial questions in assessing the scope of the law is the definition of a restaurant. For Eischen, there can only be one answer to this: "There is only one place where a restaurant is defined, that is the right of establishment", he says. In concrete terms, this means that bakeries, butchers or delicatessens, as well as certain takeaways allowing their customers to consume food on site but are not legally considered restaurants, do not fall under the law. So, in practice, far fewer actors are involved than consumers would assume.
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