Reusable crates containing herbs in a greenhouse. Copyright: GIZ

Local reusable packaging systems: Avoiding waste and empowering women

Circular City Labs – Testing reusable packaging systems in cities

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  • Commissioning Party

    German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

  • Country
  • Overall term

    2023 to 2025

  • Other Stakeholders

    ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

  • Products and expertise

    Climate, environment, management of natural resources


Cities are generating more and more waste due to high densities of population, restaurants, businesses and industry. Reusable packaging systems are an important part of the circular economy. They address the root of the problem by ensuring that less packaging is used and waste is reduced. They also conserve resources and reduce greenhouse gases.

Women play a crucial role in environmentally sustainable consumption, making 70 to 80 per cent of household purchase decisions. Female entrepreneurs can significantly contribute to new business areas of the circular economy. It stands to reason, therefore, that women should be involved in the transition to a circular economy.


The new reusable packaging systems in cities reduce waste and greenhouse gases and empower women as environmentally sustainable entrepreneurs.


The project supports the development of reusable packaging systems in four partner cities through implementation of the following activities:

  • Baseline studies: A study assesses the local conditions for reusable packaging solutions and opportunities for empowering women as well as cooperation with the private sector and municipalities. Relevant actors, such as small and medium-sized enterprises, municipal administrations and consumers, are identified.
  • Test phase: In each city, the project conducts labs to identify local companies that are interested to integrate reusable packaging into their business models, and supports them. During the selection process, emphasis is placed on addressing companies (co)managed by women. The solutions for reusable packaging are primarily tested for feasibility, user acceptance and financial viability.
  • Training: For women working in the private sector and in municipal administration, the project offers training programmes on leadership, the circular economy and reusable packaging systems.
  • Communication and dialogue: The project promotes the dissemination of the concept of reusable packaging systems in international and national contexts and supports dialogue between companies.

Last update: July 2023

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