Proposed features/reusable packaging

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Status: Proposed (under way)
Proposed by: Ajojo
Tagging: reusable_packaging:offer / reusable_packaging:accept=yes / no / only
Applies to: node area
Definition: Describes a shop accepting reusable containers from their customers and/or proposing some
Drafted on: 2019-07-13
RFC start: 2019-09-12


Create a tag that allows to identify shops reducing their amounts of waste by accepting or proposing reusable packaging for their products for sale.


Many organizations, including Zero Waste France (see this french article for the initiative description), try to identify shops accepting reusable packaging from their customers and make the information public using a sticker like "Bring your own containers" on the shop window.

The goal of this sticker is to make customers comfortable asking to buy some products using their own packaging (reused glass jar, reused paper bag, reused fabric bag, no packaging like taking the bread in the hand...).

Nowadays many different isolated maps exist to identify these shops but none of them is based on OpenStreetMap database to identify them and there is no common map for all these organizations and shop initiatives.

OpenStreetMap existing features related to shop packaging


OpenStreetMap allows to identify bulk purchase shops and it exists some applications like for people who just want a render of these data.

Shops accepting reusable containers are not necessarily shops who sell "bulk products". It could be any shop that accepts that people bring their own containers to buy a food product, soap, detergent ... A shop that has bulk products, as described in the OpenStreetMap wiki, is not necessarily a shop who accepts reusable containers. Some shops selling bulk products will only accept that their customers use the one-use only bags proposed by the shop.


It also exists a feature that describes Zero waste shops. This features is much more exclusive and is limited to shops "that largely do without packaging material" while the majority of shops that accept reusable containers just accept it for customers who ask for it, which is a customer initiative to not have a new packaging and not a shop one as the Zero Waste shops.

There is also a feature proposal Low_waste_and_zero_waste that is really close to the zero_waste one.

Detailed description: what & why

Accepting reusable packaging for a shop means that the products of the shop are not already packaged when the customer wants to buy it. Like a bakery with a huge bread basket, a bulk purchase shop, a butcher display ... It's not just about avoid the extra plastic bag in supermarket to carry all the products just bought.

Shops accepting reusable containers are often conveniences and supermarkets selling bulk products, greengrocers, bakeries, butcher's shops, fish shops, delis, chocolate shops, cake shops, but it could also be restaurants or fast foods which accept reusable containers for a takeaway service. In my opinion, this could also apply for vendor machines with packaging in option (milk vending machine, orange juice, bread and vegetables/fruits distributors ...).

Most of the time, if the customer wants to buy the products without packaging he has to ask the seller for it and sometimes the shops deny the request. This could be demoralizing especially for shy people. It's rare that the seller proposes himself to not package the product or to use a reusable container. Some organizations like Zero Waste make the task easier for customers by proposing stickers to shops to put on the shop window. Below is an example of sticker from Zero Waste Lille in France. On these sticker we often see "bring your own containers" or "We like your jars" ... It's easier for customers to ask the product in a reusable container when a sign says that the shop accepts that service. It also means that the seller will know why the customers ask for it.

Example of sticker: Sticker from Zero Waste Lille

Also, some shops even propose some reusable packaging. They have a kind of deposit you pay once and reuse (sometimes the shop even cleans it for you: you give the old one when coming back to the shop and you get clean one for your new purchases), or even packaging customers give to the shop, the shop cleans it and proposes it back to all clients for free (often using glass jars that we find for jam, tomato sauce ... that people usually use once and put to trash).

Warning: "reusable" doesn't mean "recyclable". They are not of the same level of involvement. Even if a container is recyclable and/or biodegradable, the highest environmental cost of this packaging is to produce it and re-produce it for recycling (high energy & water cost). Re-using, means produce once and re-use multiple times until it's not reusable anymore.


Each local antenna of the Zero Waste organization have identified around 100 shops using a sticker like the "Bring your own containers" sticker per city of medium/large size (more than 100k people). Therefore the number of shops accepting the containers of the customers is about a few thousands for a country like France.


Shops accepting that their customers bring and use their own packaging to buy a product:

A shop accepting reusable containers should physically display it on the shop. It could be a sticker on the shop window, a sign hand-made by the shop saying "here you can bring your reusable containers" or a shop that explicitly says "Zero waste shop" meaning that the philosophy is not to sell products with packaging.

The reusable container accepted could be a strong one that will be used hundreds of times like a glass jar or a fragile one that is considered as "reused" like a paper bag that could be usable only a few times. The second type is not really a "reusable" packaging but is considered as "reused".

Shops proposing some reusable containers to their clients:

The deposit could be a packaging the user pays for and get the money back when bringing the packaging at the next time or a free deposit that the user have to bring back later. A reusable container could be a glass jar that the customer doesn't have necessarily to bring back but that could be reused for another shop or purpose.

Both deposit and reusable container have to be strong enough to be really reusable like: a glass jar, a strong-plastic box, a fabric bag ... A paper bag or a plastic bag are not considered strong enough to be a reusable container.

Definition by examples:

Applies to

Nodes and areas.

It could be:

  • shops (conveniences, supermarkets, greengrocers, bakeries, butcher's shops, fish shops, delis, chocolate shops, cake shops)
  • restaurants, cafe, fast foods ... which accept reusable containers for a takeaway service
  • vendor machines with packaging in option (milk vending machine, orange juice, bread and vegetables/fruits distributors ...).

External discussions


Please comment on the discussion page.