Canteen in Wannsee goes green and sustainable

reusable mugs

Instead of paper cups, coffee to go will only be served in reusable cups.

By Anja Mia Neumann

The HZB canteen in Wannsee is setting a good example for environmental protection. Starting this autumn, all cleaning will be done with eco cleaning products and, from now on, instead of paper cups, coffee to go will only be served in reusable cups.

Up to 150 disposable cups – a day. This figure shocked the head of the HZB canteen, Mariola Nadolski. “It’s crazy how much waste is produced this way.” Her employees had kept a tally and counted 100 paper cups or more used for coffee on an ordinary working day in Wannsee.

Karin Haas agrees. “Naturally, as the Sustainability Officer, I was never too happy about those things.” Accordingly, at Haas’ initiative, the paper cups at HZB will soon be history. They are being phased out in favour of environmentally friendly reusable plastic cups. Made from natural raw materials, these cups are biodegradable – and even Made in Germany.

Starting this autumn, the returnable cups can be obtained from the canteen checkout for a 5 euro deposit. They are bright blue with a green lid and have the HZB logo stamped on them. If you wish, you can keep your cup and set a good coffee-to-go example wherever you are. Or, if you no longer need it, you can return the cup and get your 5 euros back, just like a deposit bottle.

But what if the checkout is closed? Then you can get one from the snack machine behind the tray return point. “We will be keeping two shelves free in the rotating vending machine for the cups,” Haas explains. You can get them from there if the checkout happens to be closed. To return the cups, though, you will have to wait until the checkout opens again.

For that after-lunch coffee or for times outside canteen hours, everyone is also welcome to bring their own cup or favourite mug from home.

Also good to know: the porcelain cups and glasses from the canteen are not for the taking, rather are there to be used exclusively in the canteen.

The canteen has always been ecologically minded in what it does. This starts with the supplier, for example, who delivers veggies not individually packed like in the supermarket, but in crates, as Nadolski reports. This avoids a lot of packaging waste. Even bags of uncoated eco paper were purposefully chosen for serving the bread rolls.

“We are now converting to eco cleaning products as well,” Nadolski announces a further change. In future, these will be used for cleaning all tables, floors and kitchen working surfaces, and even running the dishwasher. This goes for every last detail, including descaling. Dosing systems on the walls will ensure less waste. “It is worth it, because you need a lot of cleaning products for a big kitchen.”

To the canteen head, the advantages are clear: they are produced in Germany, there is no GM or animal testing, and the product fragrances are based on natural citric acid and orange peel. “We are an energy institute, and we want to be ecologically responsible and not waste any resources,” Nadolski asserts.