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koziol x OMR: A pioneering pilot project shows new distribution channels for reusable products at major events.

Julia Bernert

Published on 16.08.2023

What does it take for a reusable concept at a major event? OMR and koziol tested it together at the recent OMR Festival in Hamburg, equipping the food hall entirely with reusable tableware and cutlery. More than 90,000 individual items were used – from cutlery to plates in various sizes to handy bowls.

We spoke to Uwe Thielsch, Sales Director and Head of Department at koziol, about the challenges and potential of the pilot project.

Dear Mr Thielsch, Reusable @OMR23: How did the cooperation come about?

Uwe Thielsch: “OMR had set itself the goal of effectively making this year’s event more sustainable and had conducted extensive market research to this end. It was mainly about design and function as well as material and manufacturing.

What tipped the scales for you to take part in this pilot project?

Uwe Thielsch: “Festival and reusable – that didn’t go together in the past. Too complicated, too expensive, nobody wants it – that’s how many organisers waved it off. But the legal framework is changing and visitors are now taking a closer look. Against this background, it was very attractive for us to participate in this lighthouse project and to prove that reusable packaging is feasible with the right partners.

What products did you use?
Uwe Thielsch: “Different bowls, plates and reusable cutlery were used. For such festivals, the criteria are obvious. Perfect functionality is important, as well as easy handling, good stackability – as there is little space, robustness and good washability. But of course it also has to look appetising and delicious at such a high-class event, which is where the sophisticated design comes into play. You notice right away that the high-quality basic materials we use don’t just look good, they also feel good, because koziol products also have a great feel.

Keyword design: How important is it for the OMR’s reusable concept?
Uwe Thielsch: “First of all, we can only be beautiful! The temptation to take something with you is already great with koziol products. But reusable products thrive on participation, and the users at the OMR Festival have understood that. Because: only when the goods circulate and are used long and often do we all make the world a little bit better together. That’s why all tableware remained consistently unbranded.

What were the biggest challenges in the implementation for this major event?
Uwe Thielsch: “In addition to the very dedicated just-in-time delivery concept, good dishwashing logistics must be ensured alongside the dishes. For this we have very experienced partners at our side, without whom such a festival could not be managed.

What is the conclusion of the cooperation?
Uwe Thielsch: “There was nothing but enthusiastic feedback, both from the organiser, who was pleased with the greatly reduced amount of waste, and from the users, who enjoyed eating the high-quality food from the ‘great tableware’ and were excited about the sustainability approach. We are sure that the OMR will hereby become a benchmark. If koziol is mentioned and recognised as a competent partner in this breath, this is more than just the beginning for a new sustainable distribution channel for our company.

What lessons have you learned?
Uwe Thielsch: “In the run-up to such an event, professional and forward-looking planning is required. It starts with the combination of the menus in and on the right tableware and ends with smooth logistics on site. Easy handling and a small footprint also play a major role. In addition to the right products, you also need the right partners to manage such a project. Since we had these, we were able to perfectly map out the different scenarios in Hamburg.

What’s next: Do major events follow the OMR’s reusable concept?
Uwe Thielsch: “Oh yes, it went straight on. For example, at the beginning of June this year we made the Women’s Champions League Final in Eindhoven nearly waste-free with our universal Move Oval serving bowl. Fair play was not only on the pitch at this final: although no deposit was charged for the bowls in the stadium, the visitors were happy to participate in the new reusable concept and returned the bowls without complaint. This is a great benchmark and more projects are already being planned.