Tallinn’s Ülemiste City moves away from single-use packaging

  • 2022-06-16

Ülemiste City that is located in Tallinn moves away from single-use packaging on its territory and starts collaborating with Ringo Eco to reduce the amount of packaging waste generated by takeaway food.

In total, more than 30 return containers will be installed in Ülemiste City: in parks, on parking lots, in building lobbies, as well as near cafes and restaurants. By autumn, it is also planned to launch a simple and easy-to-understand model of cooperation with offices, which will allow all employees to abandon single-use packaging.

“Our business town of over 13,000 people is the size of a small Estonian town, and any changes need to be planned considering that size. We want to offer residents the opportunity to make more informed choices to reduce their environmental impact. We intend to prevent the use of up to 200,000 units of single-use packaging per year,” said Mati Fjodorov from Ülemiste City.

“In Estonia we launched the reusable packaging system only half a year ago, but now there are already 150 Ringo packaging return locations in Tallinn – this is more than the deposit-based return points for bottles and cans,” said co-founder of Ringo Eco Janek Balõnski. “According to the agreements already concluded, this summer we will have to additionally create the same number of return points in Tallinn – so that in September there will be over 300 packaging return points in the capital. By Christmas, we cleaned our first million packages and sent them to food manufacturers and restaurants for reuse. Each clean packaging means that one less single-use packaging has been expended."

Ringo Eco offers a reusable packaging service to restaurants, retail chains, food manufacturers and event organizers. Today Ringo Eco services are used by 70 restaurants and cafes in Estonia. At least 90% of single-use packaging has been replaced with Ringo solution at PokeBowl in Ülemiste Center, in all Tokumaru restaurants, as well as in Idu Restaurant and Siiam Tai.

“Across Estonia, reusable packaging is being tested by businesses very actively,” added Janek Balõnski. “We always say that the real leaders of the packaging revolution in society are those who refuse single-use packaging.”

The Tammo family’s Tammer and Estanc are examples of industrial companies that are phasing out single-use packaging while providing meals to their employees. “Technically, nothing prevents the use of reusable packaging. However, it will take some time for food businesses to become ready to move away from single-use packaging. In any case, we use such eco-friendly packaging and recommend it to others,” said Estanc office manager Ragne Pless.

In Tartu’s Coop in the Kvartali centre, reusable packaging is put on self-service counters, and three Rimi stores in Tallinn will start using Ringo’s reusable packaging system in the coming weeks.

“All these businesses and Ülemiste City as a whole set an example for others through their actions and cause irreversible change in consumer habits. They are the driving force behind the packaging revolution in Estonia. The launch of pilot projects will be completed this summer, and in autumn we will have to think about solutions that are to work on a permanent basis,” said Janek Balõnski.

The emergence and development of a new nationwide deposit system in Estonia will allow food manufacturers to be bolder about the implementation of reusable packaging. The first major experiment will take place this summer, when 10 food manufacturers will place one of their pre-packaged products in a Ringo package and the products will then go on sale in two Rimi hypermarkets.