News - December 8, 2022

A close up on…Uzaje

Written by Enzo Stauffner 3 min read

In today's society, waste reduction has become an increasingly important issue. The food industry, in particular, is faced with the challenge of finding a solution to reduce waste, from packaging to the disposal of used containers. The city of Avignon in France has taken a step in the right direction by investing in a waste reduction solution provided by Uzaje to get rid of single-use packaging and to reduce the amount of waste related to school canteens.

THE PROBLEM: Single-use packaging in the food industry

Waste in the food industry is a growing concern. More than 90 billion of food packagings are produced in France each year, and as many end up as waste to be treated. Single-use packaging, such as polypropylene trays, contributes significantly to this problem. In addition, the health impacts of plastic exposure in the food industry are currently unknown and uncontrolled. 

Old containers in canteens


The solution to this problem requires a comprehensive approach, taking into account the choice of packaging, logistics, and efficient cleaning processes.

THE CLIENT: The city of Avignon, in France

La cité des Papes is at the forefront of waste reduction. In May 2021, the city launched a call for tender for an outsourced washing service for its central kitchen.

In a month, the city selected Uzaje's solution, investing in stainless steel food containers to replace the non-reusable service dishes and choosing their optimized washing service. By choosing Uzaje's service, the city of Avignon didn’t have to invest in their own machines. The company had experience in the stainless steel container sector and had already conducted studies in the Ile-de-France region, which happens to be a partner of the Solar Impulse Foundation. 

THE SOLUTION : Waste reduction solution from packaging choice, logistics, to high-efficiency cleaning.

Uzaje provides a turnkey and a sustainable solution for experts in the food industry. The solution offered by Uzaje involves waste reduction through the use of durable materials such as glass and stainless steel and the use of low-consumption technology. Uzaje offers industrial cleaning solutions and logistical support to implement reuse systems, replacing single-use packaging. In addition, Uzaje is involved in reducing exposure to plastic in the food industry, while operating two washing centers in Neuilly sur Marne, near Paris and Avignon. It has over 100 customers.


The new Uzaje trays


The use of durable materials and low-consumption technology, combined with efficient cleaning processes and logistical support, are contributing to reducing waste and promoting sustainability. As more cities and businesses adopt similar solutions, we can expect to see a significant reduction in waste in the food industry.


The implementation of the solution began in June 2021 to start operations within 6 months in January 2022. The city selected the solution offered by Uzaje, the outsourced washing service provider, and signed a 4-year contract to justify the opening of their wash center in Avignon. The city of Avignon invested in stainless steel food containers to replace the previous non-reusable polypropylene trays used in three school canteens. The financing for the containers in the schools was done through subsidies from ADEME, the French environmental agency.

Uzaje spent 600k euros in the implementation of the center, and received an investment grant of 150k euros from ADEME Sud.


Since the opening in January 2022, Uzaje has approx. 20 clients in four business sectors. They have created 4 full-time local jobs, non relocatable, created in 2022, one of which is in insertion in partnership with the Perspectim Agency, within the framework of their approval as a social utility company (ESUS).

In terms of figures on stainless steel containers, trays and lids washed in 2022 to replace plastic trays, here's an overview:

Number of items washed in 2022

Tons of CO2 avoided

Tons of packaging waste avoided

Stainless steel tray and lids

+400 000




The major constraint faced by Uzaje is the time required to return the cleaned containers. The washing capacity of 5000 covers per day and 400-500 stainless steel containers in 5 hours must be maintained to meet the demands of their customers.

The cleaning installation


In France, several regulations promote the reuse of containers, such as :

  • AGEC law (anti-waste and circular economy): with the obligation for on-site catering of more than 20 seats to switch to reusable containers by January 1, 2023

  • AGEC Law: for industrial product packaging reuse targets of 5% in 2023 and 10% in 2027

  • EGALim law: for school canteens, day care centers and pediatric services obligation to stop using plastic containers for reheating meals (because of the risk of endocrine disruptors) on January 1, 2025 -> it is within the framework of this regulation that the transition to stainless steel containers was made in the central kitchen of Avignon

At the level of the regulations of other European countries:
Germany : "From 2023: gastronomic establishments (cafes, restaurants) but also kiosks or food delivery services will have to offer a reusable alternative for the packaging of any drink or takeaway." 

Similar laws exist in other European countries such as Spain, Italy, and Portugal.


Uzaje's future plans include expanding to seven centers in France. Grand Est and Lille regions are the core target. The innovators are also looking into finding more potential customers in the Avignon region, and optimizing logistics for transportation. Uzaje is currently conducting several R&D projects on its Neuilly-sur-Marne center, aiming at industrializing the washing process. Their ambition is to be able to duplicate this know-how when the next center, in Strasbourg in the Grand-Est region, a partner of Solar Impulse, will open (Q4 2023).

 It will be the first fully industrialized washing center in Europe for food containers.

Written by Enzo Stauffner on December 8, 2022

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