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REUSE and hygiene - how do we do it?

Since its mass expansion, disposable plastic packaging has become not only a symbol of comfort but also of hygiene. This feeling is often subconscious and scientifically unfounded. It can be caused not just by the crystal shine of plastic packages, but to some extent also by marketing. On the contrary, we are often suspicious to things that are used or second-hand. Especially if their “usedness” is explicitly visible. So where is the truth? Does reusable packaging pose a higher risk of infection with, for example, coronavirus?

Despite that "touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads"(1), a recent research has confirmed that plastic packaging can carry coronavirus on its surface for a certain time. (2) However, it has shown this regardless of whether these packages are disposable or reusable. 

From the shoppers' point of view, the process which packaging underwent before the moment of purchase is the most important, as Loop’s founder Tom Szaky says. Could someone have touched the package or food with an unwashed hand? Was the reusable packaging well disinfected? Good news for nature: Hygiene can be easily ensured even with reusable packaging! If you are interested in how we handled it, read on.

Smart capsules stay always closed

You may know that with the MIWA system, the products are filled into smart reusable capsules at the manufacturers. From there they are sent directly to shops. The shop employees simply take the capsules, install them in a smart MIWA module and open them hygienically with a vibrating lever. Touching the product is technically not even possible, as we will explain further.

MIWA smart reusable capsule

Smart reusable capsule

Hygienic pouch

To guarantee food safety to a maximum, we have an extra tool. Inside each capsule, the goods are sealed in a thin recyclable pouch. This pouch is single material, food safe plastic that is perfect for recycling. And it actually gets recycled: After emptying, both the capsules and the pouches are sent to a cleaning and control centre. The capsules are disinfected using modern technological procedures, and we keep control over the recycling of the pouches.

Almost contactless shopping

As a buyer, you take care of the cleanliness of your shopping packages yourself. Whether you use a smart MIWA cup, an ordinary glass jar or a cloth bag - you have full control over their safety and you can be sure that no one else has touched them. While pouring the product from the MIWA module, the only contact surfaces are the pouring button and the touch screen. The trained store employees disinfect these surfaces frequently, as they currently do with shopping baskets and other areas that customers touch.

hand holding MIWA cup and pouring product from MIWA modul

MIWA shopping is almost contactless

Products can easily get blocked

Smart reusable packaging can even go a step further than disposable hygiene packaging: It can be equipped with chips. Unlike ordinary barcodes, the chipped packaging is physically traceable.

The same is true for MIWA capsules. Each of them is equipped with an RFID chip and traceable via an information system, including detailed information about its current content. Therefore, if the manufacturer announces that a defective or contaminated batch is in circulation, we can block the given product by almost "pressing a button".

MIWA’s solution to the safety and hygiene of food and packaging is of course not the only right one. Different reuse systems work on a different basis, but they should always rely on the most modern hygienic and eco-friendly procedures.

 

(1) "How Covid 19 spreads", Centers for disease control and prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.html (available on 8.12.2020)

(2) "Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions", https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanmic/article/PIIS2666-5247(20)30003-3/fulltext (available on 8.12.2020)

Author: Lucie Jandová

Title photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

 

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