Picnic with RECUP and REBOWL. | © DB AG / Faruk Hosseini

We turn disposable into reusable

You may sometimes want to make the most of the sun and grab a coffee to go or take your salad and pasta outside on your lunch break. Many people like to enjoy their food and drinks on the move - but this has consequences. Every year, billions of disposable cups and containers end up in the garbage in Germany. 

At Deutsche Bahn we want to take a stand against this waste of valuable resources. On board our long-distance trains or in our DB Casino staff cafeterias and DB catering service we serve meals with reusable tableware.

Food served on porcelain in our trains 

On board our long-distance trains, we offer our customers a sustainable eating experience just like at home. Since January 1, 2023, we will be using high-quality porcelain tableware to serve hot beverages, main meals and snacks to be enjoyed in the on-board bistro and elsewhere on the train. All other drinks will be served in glasses. By no longer using disposable tableware, we at Deutsche Bahn are driving forward the green transformation in on-board catering. After all, porcelain and glass, made with natural raw materials, are reusable, durable and more environmentally friendly than disposable packaging. Our passengers will not have to pay anything to use the items, not even a returnable deposit. The current disposable packaging will still be available and can be given to customers who request it. 

High-quality porcelain as a reusable option on our long-distance trains


Deposit on returnable containers

However, because many DB employees do not work in an office, we also offer containers provided in a deposit return system in our staff cafeterias. This way, everyone can enjoy a hot beverage or a meal on the go without wasting resources. For small take-away snacks such as fruit salads, smoothies and yoghurts, we have been offering eco-friendly deposit jars for some time. The jars can be returned in any of our staff cafeterias.

With the new deposit system from our partner RECUP, we now offer another eco-friendly alternative to throw-away packaging. The system is simple: our employees receive their drinks and food to take out in a RECUP or a REBOWL for which they pay a small deposit. The empty cups and bowls can be returned to the DB Casino cafeteria or to any RECUP partner. There are around 6,000 cafés and stores throughout Germany where customers can pick up and return the cups and bowls, and where their deposit money is refunded.

Obvious advantages for the environment 

Reusing with RECUP is a truly environmentally friendly option. The cups and bowls are made of 100 percent recyclable plastic. Unlike their disposable counterparts, the tableware can be washed and reused 500 to 1,000 times.  Another feature of the cups and bowls is that they are produced in a low-energy process. RECUP and REBOWL has been awarded the German “Blue Angel” ecolabel.  

By using the deposit system, we sustainably reduce the use of disposable packaging in our staff cafeterias. We and our employees can thus together make a significant contribution to increasing sustainability and protecting resources every day.

A pilot project for promoting reuse at stations

At Nuremberg main station and at several stations in Munich we are offering another opportunity to reuse cups. Here, DB Station&Service is running a pilot project to test Recup's reusable cup deposit system together with the participating station stores. Customers pay a one-euro deposit to have their coffee in a special plastic cup, which they can return at any location where Recup cups are available. In Germany there are a lot of cafés, bakeries and restaurants where this is the case.