Press Pack 1Less

What is 1Less?

1Less is a Berlin-based start-up that has made it its mission to fight plastic waste. To do so, we have developed a special system to help solve the plastic problem, particularly at large events, at trade fairs and in shopping centers.


What is the problem solved by 1Less?

Every day billions of single-use plastic containers are thrown away. In the EU alone, over 1.13 trillion food and drink containers are used every year. Many of them are only used for a few minutes, but will pollute our planet for thousands of years. The health effects likewise cannot be ignored: Recent studies have even found microplastic particles in human placentas. Together with climate change, plastic waste is one of the greatest threats to our lives.

But what if single-use cups and plates at airports and trade fairs, in shopping centers and at festivals were simply no longer necessary? What if there was a better solution, a solution allowing us to avoid millions of tons of waste without having to compromise on hygiene, convenience or cost?

Re-usable plates, cups and cutlery have to be user-friendly and make infections impossible. That is vital for getting consumers and businesses to accept them. But due to the COVID pandemic most cafés have stopped using them. Contact is simply too risky.


Our solution: Internet-of-Things, Artificial Intelligence and smart re-use

The Berlin-based start-up 1Less has developed an innovative automated system for use at trade fairs, at event locations and in shopping centers. It does not require any physical contact. By combining software and hardware and using Internet-of-Things technology, 1Less has created a system of re-usable cups, plates and cutlery. These items are equipped with RFID tags, which are later sorted by automated sorting bins using different types of sensors. The fully-automated bin separates normal garbage from re-usable cups and plates when they are thrown away. The service staff empties the bins to transport the dishes to the local dishwashing stations for cleaning and later re-use. This means no refundable deposits are necessary and the system is 100% COVID-compliant.

The system is easy to install and lets conferences, airports, zoos, shopping centers and theme parks avoid much of their plastic waste. This quantum leap of waste prevention will appeal to businesses while also protecting our environment.

After development of the prototypes in 2021, the first major trials are scheduled for 2022. 

Announcement Grüne Woche Berlin

Grüne Woche Berlin

The problem 

1. What is the problem 1Less intends to solve?

We aim to reduce plastic waste worldwide. This is a major issue. Every person in the Western world produces up to 100kg of plastic waste per year. Contrary to what many people believe, most of this waste is burned or ends up in landfills. One of the main causes of plastic waste are 500 billion single-use cups and billions of other take-away containers.

 This problem is not easy to solve: Complex mixtures of plastics, the plastic component in paper packaging and the fact that bioplastics are not biodegradable make recycling difficult. That is why the European Union and various governments have begun to ban single-use plastic in the food industry, restaurant industry and other industries. While this is the right step, it does not solve the problem as long as there are no alternatives. That is why we are convinced that re-using plastic containers is the only solution. But to become widely accepted , the system for doing so must be intelligent, safe and easy to use. That is the problem we intend to solve.


Our company

2. What exactly does 1Less do?

We aim to reduce plastic waste worldwide. Our main objective is to reduce environmental pollution by single-use plastic packaging. With this in mind, we have developed an innovative system that connects software and hardware and is perfectly tailored to the needs of event organizers and shopping centers. This system involves intelligent re-usable cups, plates, bowls, cutlery and other packaging that is dishwasher-safe. These consist of a mono-plastic that permits 100% re-use. In addition, the system includes intelligent sorting containers, referred to as “Smart Bins”, which automatically separate normal waste from 1Less dishware as soon as they are thrown in. 

 1Less packaging is easy to collect, wash and re-use on site, while other waste can be disposed of as usual. 1Less is scalable and does not need a system of refundable deposits. This business model does not require users to change their habits at all.

3. Why is there now a need for automated re-usable solutions?

At the moment, two factors play a particularly important role: greater awareness of the environmental problem and the current coronavirus pandemic. That is why we are planning to launch our system in 2022. This timing is perfect because the European Union and others have recognized that it is high time to reduce plastic waste. Not least to prevent setbacks, such as the COVID pandemic which has actually forced the food industry to use more single-use  packaging for hygiene reasons and because it is easier to handle.

Hopefully planned changes to EU law such as a plastics tax will put an end to that. This tax would require a payment of 0.80 EUR for each kilogram of single-use plastic packaging. In July 2021, the EU directive on single-use plastics began imposing sanctions on products such as single-use bowls, plates and items made of bioplastics. This has forced many businesses to act now to avoid high fines. Moreover, the EU’s circular economy action plan will ensure that only recyclable plastic packaging is used by 2030. 

4. Who is behind 1Less?

1Less is defined primarily by Boris Jebsen, Sven Hermann and Gerald Lamusse. The company was founded by Boris Jebsen, who has successfully created multiple other businesses. Boris Jebsen has been involved in the event industry for a decade and has decided to use his expertise and contacts to allow 1Less to launch the optimal solution.  

Sven Hermann is the CTO of 1Less and has spent the past 20 years developing and scaling a variety of software and IoT products for renowned companies with great success.

Gerald Lamusse joined  recently  as the COO after having worked in a variety of executive positions focusing on product management, business development, company management and international sales for a leading exhibition company over 20 years. 

5. How does the business model work?

Ultimately, it’s quite simple: If we replace only 5 % of plastic cups and charge our customers an annual service fee of 2.50 EUR per cup, we are looking at potential earnings of 1.4 billion EUR. The market potential quickly reaches multiple billions if we also include other packaging varieties (plates, bowls, etc.). Our potential is fueled even more by growing interest among potential customers and increasing public and political pressure.


The product

6. How exactly does the system work?

1Less has developed a system for re-using plastic products. It is an innovative automated system for use at trade fairs, at event locations and in shopping centers, where it requires no physical contact. Specifically, it is a combination of software and hardware making use of Internet-of-Things technology. This includes re-usable cups, plates, bowls and cutlery. These items are equipped with RIFD tags. RFID is a technology used to automatically identify and locate objects in a contactless manner with the aid of radio waves. These special tags make it possible to have the tagged items sorted by automated sorting containers equipped with special sensors. The fully automatic 1Less Smart Bins separate normal garbage from re-usable dishware as soon as they are discarded in the bins. The service staff then empties the bins to transport the dishes to the local dishwashing stations for cleaning and later re-use. This means no refundable deposits are necessary and the system is 100% COVID-compliant. This quantum leap of waste prevention will appeal to businesses while also protecting our environment.

7. Why don’t we just use a system based on refundable deposits?

Because there would be hygiene issues. Products with refundable deposits such as re-usable dishes have to be user-friendly and have to reliably prevent infections. That is vital for getting consumers and businesses to accept them. But due to the COVID pandemic most of the restaurant industry has actually stopped using them. Repeated use of these products poses a major problem that single-use products simply do not have.

8. What does the system cost?

There are two payment options for the system: Pay-as-you-go or a one-time purchase. With pay-as-you-go, companies can rent the re-usable dishware provided by 1Less and the 1Less Smart Bins. We charge a small fee for each use. This allows the customer to only pay for the dishware that is actually used. A weekly flat rate is charged for the 1Less Smart Bins. Alternatively, businesses can purchase the 1Less re-usable dishware and the 1Less Smart Bins once and then use them as often as they want. But whether you’re renting or buying – our Internet-of-Things-based platform with an overview of current usage data and insightful analyses is available to all of our customers for a low annual flat rate. This gives our customers a detailed overview of the utilized capacity of their system and specific starting points for business optimization.

9. Where will the system be used?

The system can be used in any closed area, particularly at conferences, airports, zoos, shopping centers and theme parks, but also at trade fairs or festivals. The plastic waste issue is global, so it needs a global response. Worldwide, over 146 million tons of single-use plastic packaging is produced every year and 141 million tons of it is simply thrown away. That is why a large trade exhibition company, a well-known theme park and a global leader in the drinks industry have already expressed interest in a pilot project. 

All of these companies have to implement the EU strategies for circular economy and plastics without delay. So they have good reasons to be looking for better options than the status quo.

10. What are the prerequisites for using the system?

It’s all very simple! To use the automated system, conventional garbage cans have to be replaced with 1Less Smart Bins one time only. In addition, some space to store the 1Less dishwareware on site, ready for use, and access to industrial-grade dishwashers to clean the dishware are required. These can either be available directly on site or at the premises of a partner responsible for the cleaning work. 

11. If I run a normal company, can I use the system?      

Big or small – any company that serves food and drinks can use the 1Less system. The 1Less system for automated re-use is particularly interesting for restaurant chains and event catering businesses. 

12. What types of product can the system process?

Our dishware won’t limit your enjoyment! 1Less plates and bowls are suitable for any prepared meal. Our cups can be filled with hot or cold drinks. After the meal, 1Less Smart Bins separate leftover food and other waste from the re-usable dishware and process this waste separately.