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Gothenburg aims to become Sweden’s first single-use free city centre

Disposable packaging may be convenient, but it results in large quantities of waste and litter. Now, the city of Gothenburg is following the initiative by Gothenburg Culture Festival to encourage single-use free lunches. Bring your own lunch box and buy your lunch from one of the first restaurants to come on board.

Ulrika Barkman starts the Campaign to buy lunch in your own lunchbox

Several Gothenburg restaurants have joined the scheme encouraging customers to buy lunch in their own lunch boxes, and more outlets are signing up all the time.

“Naturally, we hope that all restaurants and work places will take part,” says Planning Officer Ulrika Barkman from the City of Gothenburg’s Parks and Nature Administration. “Many disposable containers are only used to transport food a few hundred metres to staff break rooms, and customers’ own lunch boxes work just as well.”

Restaurants and workplaces can download free publicity materials from the website to show their support for the scheme, which is being backed by the City of Gothenburg, Göteborg & Co and the shopping organisations.

“Reducing litter is a core part of the City of Gothenburg’s work for a cleaner, more attractive city centre,” continues Ulrika. “A single-use free city is a goal that we can all get behind. This is a simple initiative which is highly topical, and which can have a great effect if we act together.”

Next year, new EU legislation will ban many single-use plastic items, which account for 70 percent of all marine debris. A third of Gothenburg residents say that they would be encouraged to start using reusable containers if they heard about the opportunity to do so at shops and restaurants, according to an interview survey carried out by Sustainable Waste and Water at the City of Gothenburg.

The 2020 Gothenburg Culture Festival will introduce a deposit system for food containers, and the festival plans to be single-use free next year. Find out more about how Sweden’s biggest city festival will become single-use free:

Quick facts:

  • Bringing your own lunch box or cup when buying take-away food and drinks from cafés and restaurants is absolutely OK. There are no rules against this.
  • One in three Swedes aged 18 to 29 buys food, drinks or snacks daily or several times a week.
  • Eight out of ten of these believe that single-use plastic is a major environmental problem.
  • Six out of ten say that they dispose of their used packaging in the nearest rubbish bin.
  • Each Gothenburg resident generates 400 kg of waste each year. One third of this is packaging, and the proportion is rising.
  • If you buy takeaway food in your own reusable container twice a week you will reduce your waste by an average of 90 single-use containers.

(Sources: The Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation, the Swedish Food Agency and Sustainable Waste and Water, the City of Gothenburg.)