How the Cosumer Experience is channeled with pizza

To-go pizza without a pizza box? PIZZycle an Offenbach-based start-up is helping to eliminate packaging waste worldwide with its round pizza boxes for the most popular delivery meal.

Opened pizza box from PIZZycle with flyers
Round box for round pizza. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Can from the Food Lab talked to Filip Raketic and learned a lot about polypropylene and deposit systems.

Can: What makes your polypropylene (more commonly referred to as PP in the following) more sustainable than other PPs? Can you explain this in layman’s terms?

Filip: In terms of materials, it’s a question of whether the PP is used as a mono-material or as a mix with other thermoplastics or perhaps even reinforced with glass fiber. This is important for the end-of-life phase, because if it is a monomaterial, you can recycle it by type and the recycling market is more interested in a recyclate. And then, of course, it is also important how many uses, i.e. cycles, a reusable product can handle.

You write on your website that you are more sustainable than disposable pizza boxes after 11 uses. How does this calculation come about?

This is the result of a university study. They have developed models using the ecoinvent database to simulate various sustainability or environmental dimensions. It was then established that our product outperformed the pizza box after eleven uses across many dimensions. These are then dimensions such asCO2 or primary consumption of resources, etc. So we have reached a break-even point, so to speak, after eleven uses. The only thing we can’t match is the water consumption, as our box has to be rinsed again and again.

Many PIZZycle boxes stacked
Easy to stack

Your pizza boxes also look very different from pizza boxes. Round, two-part with air slots. Have you patented this?

Yes. We have several design protection rights at European and international level. It’s all about the way the product is designed, so a flat and smooth surface, the features with the air vents and the fasteners here on the side, which you can also use as a handle. There is no competitor product that offers such a smooth surface in any form that is also printable. And these are our main features.

I always like to ask start-ups that are concerned with sustainability whether other aspects were also improved or considered during development.

So of course I want to put Luise and Marlene in the foreground. The two of them developed it as product designers at university and I only joined as the third person. This means that Luise and Marlene initially thought about this during the design process. Naturally on the subject of sustainability, but we have also made the entire consumer experience of pizza a bit more appealing. Pizza boxes are often far too big, if only because they are square and contain round pizzas. With our pizza boxes, I consume my pizza from a round and higher quality container. Over a period of four months, we tested how many air vents there are. So it’s no coincidence how many there are and how big they are. We approached this relatively scientifically with a Plexiglas mold, where we then tested how much condensation would form.

Pizza is the world’s #1 take-away food

But your pizza boxes aren’t made from recycled material, are they? Wouldn’t that also work?

I would love it, but the problem is that at EU level we can’t get any PP recyclate that we can use for food transportation. So you are currently not allowed to use PP recyclate as a food contact material. That’s annoying.
Our PP is of fossil origin. Although there are also bioplastics made from grain or cooking oil residues, theirCO2 performance is often significantly worse than that of fossil petroleum-based PPs. We were in contact with nature conservation organizations and the like right from the start and asked them, “What should we do?”, but they also said that the industry had to get involved, so we tried our best and were also a finalist in the German Sustainability Award.

Who is your target group? Do you tend to go for the high-end pizzerias in the big cities or only for the big system catering players, or do you talk directly to delivery services?

From the very beginning, we have had the luxury of having a relatively large number of people contact us. Right from the start, we actually had customers who knew exactly what they wanted to do with the pizza boxes, so we simply produced and delivered them, and they knew exactly what they wanted to do with them. We are currently very much focused on pizza chains with their own delivery services. I would simply say that we have worked out an optimal synergy. But we also work a lot with systems such as Vytal, which is the largest digital returnable system. They then help us to ensure that the product can also be used by smaller pizzerias.

We work with every system worldwide that offers pizza

Does that mean you are not a deposit system like Recup?

Exactly, either pizzerias work with systems like Vytal or buy pizza boxes directly from us and use them as part of their own deposit system. This makes us very international. We don’t have to set up a deposit system in every country, but instead work with every system worldwide that offers pizza.

Is there no competition?

Not really two years ago when we founded the company, but now we are. Pizza is the world’s number 1 take-away food, actually across all industrialized nations. But I’ve often had people come to us through the other pizza boxes because they were looking for alternatives and we are high quality and sell D2C directly to the pizzerias without middlemen.

We are looking forward to the further development of PIZZycle and thank you for the interview.

Marlene and Filip with Pizzycle boxes in their hands
The two founders Marlene and Filip (the third member of the team, Luise, is not shown)