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Reusable concepts and major events: These were the Requirements at the OMR Festival

Julia Bernert

Published on 02.11.2023

What are the measures organisers can really take to make their major events more sustainable? OMR‘s Sustainability Manager Dominique Breuer opens up about challenges and room for manoeuvre in our PSI interview. He also reveals what he learned from the reusable pilot project at OMR 2023.

What sparked off the Cooperation Reusable@OMR23?

Dominique Breuer: We are aware that an event on the scale of the OMR Festival is not sustainable. But we have set ourselves the goal of taking measures now and in the future to make it more so. Switching from disposable materials to environmentally friendly reusable alternatives in our food halls is one way. This may sound banal at first to many people outside the event industry. But for an event with 70,000 participants, this kind of undertaking presents both us as organisers and reusable service providers with major challenges in the areas of logistics and dishwashing.

Nevertheless, we decided to implement a pilot project at the OMR Festival 2023 to test the use of reusable products for crockery and cutlery. For this, two things were needed in essence: a strong product and a competent partner for the logistical implementation. Through our market research, we finally came across the reusable tableware from koziol, who have already established themselves with their products in this area.“

Waste is one of the hottest fields of action at major events when it comes to higher sustainability. What made the search for suitable partners for products and implementation so difficult?

Dominique Breuer:First of all, reusable food products have to meet the requirements of a large event. In concrete terms, this means that they should be stackable and available in large quantities, i.e. several thousand pieces. In addition, we want to offer our visitors a reusable product that appeals to them visually and haptically and does not have any disadvantages compared to conventional tableware. All this is easier said than done: To be honest, there weren’t many products we found appealing, especially in their handling. All this does not make the search for a strong product partner easy. In the end, however, we were able to find a variety of products at koziol that suited us and were produced sustainably.

For our implementation partner, Mehrwegkonzepte, the search was similarly challenging. There, it was important for us to find a partner who, above all, has specific expertise and experience in the area of reusable packaging at events. Thanks to sustainable development, there are already many companies trying to expand into reusable goods, but experience in the field of large events is still rare, partly due to the Corona pandemic. reusable concepts has an impressive know-how in logistics and dishwashing at events and can access a strong partner network throughout Germany.

What were the biggest challenges in implementing the concept?

Dominique Breuer:Working together with koziol and Mehrwegkonzepte, we prepared the implementation of our reusable pilot for the OMR Festival 2023. The biggest challenge was to ensure a smooth flow of reusable products. So from their distribution at the food stands with the applicable deposit to their return by the visitors. For the planning, assumptions and forecasts can be made, but in the end it is always a kind of black box for a first-time implementation and you cannot know exactly whether everything will work as smoothly as planned. Even if we have taken as many eventualities into account as possible, practice always manages to come up with surprises.

What did you learn from this experience?

Dominique Breuer:You naturally always learn something new with a pilot project. Not everything runs smoothly and there are occasional snags in the implementation. But our visitors didn’t notice any of that. We were able to solve most of the little surprises that this pilot project had in store for us subtly, during the event. As expected, there were somewhat longer return times at peak times. Given the number of people, we will not be able to solve these completely, but we still want to work on shortening the waiting times.

What conclusion do you draw with regard to your cooperation?

Dominique Breuer:Over 70,000 visitors to the OMR Festival 2023 were able to experience our reusable concept in Food Hall B6. Food and drinks were served, consumed and returned in reusable dishes. At no point was this flow interrupted, and that was our main goal.

Photo (c) OMR / Niclas Rühl