Berlin-based start-up Sykell offers its system called “Einfach Mehrweg” as an alternative to disposable packaging for to-go food and drinks. Now the company has secured another €4.5 million in growth capital from Germany’s second-largest food retailer REWE, major environmental service provider and waste management company Interzero, and Collateral Good Ventures. Sykell’s low-threshold system solution operates on a deposit basis, with containers also being returnable via existing reverse vending machines. Trade-based return systems have already proven and established themselves in the beverage sector. It is right and inevitable to extend such solutions to other areas as well. Consumer convenience is a decisive factor for the necessary standardization and scaling.
Sykell describes its “Simply Reusable” as a holistic system solution that is interesting for both large retail companies and individual, owner-operated catering businesses. REWE Group had previously invested in Sykell. With Interzero and Collateral Good Ventures, the start-up has now gained further main investors, with Interzero having already joined as a strategic partner in February 2023.
In Germany, businesses that offer food or beverages to go must also offer consumers reusable containers as of January 1, 2023. Against this backdrop, Sykell wants to offer a “sustainable alternative for disposable packaging of to-go food and beverages” with its reusable deposit offer. The Sykell deposit is between €1 and €2.50.
Full service option
The start-up offers its system as a “full service reusable solution” to both large retail companies and individual, owner-operated catering businesses. As a complete package, the Sykell offering includes both retrieval and cleaning logistics, rinsing, clearing, inventory management and deposit accounting.
Option for restaurateurs
Catering businesses do not necessarily have to resort to the “full service solution”. If they have the appropriate cleaning facilities, they can also put the returned containers and cups directly back into circulation and serve consumers after professional rinsing on site.
Convenience in use is crucial for the acceptance and use of reusable solutions by consumers. This is where the Sykell system scores points, because it is based on the deposit bottle system that is widespread and well-established in Germany.
For example, “Einfach Mehrweg” requires neither registration, a customer account, app downloads, nor the provision of personal data. As with deposit bottles, the containers and cups are returned via the existing reverse vending machines of the partners participating throughout Germany. These include food retailers and gas stations. It is also possible to return the containers to catering outlets.
Crux: Reaching critical quantities
Trade-related return systems have already proven and established themselves in the beverage sector. It is right and inevitable to extend these systems to other areas as well.
Standardization and scaling of corresponding solutions are necessary and decisive for success. This is the only way to achieve the critical volumes required.
A central prerequisite for this is convenience for consumers. Reusable packaging must be low-threshold for consumers, i.e., it must require as little effort, time, and travel as possible. Sykell seems to be on the right track here.