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Master Student (m, w, d) - Thesis on forecasting reusable food container check-outs & returns
Thesis • Full or part time • Flexibler Arbeitsort
from 01.05.2021

In Germany alone, 281,000tons of garbage from to-go food and beverage packaging are produced each year. Food containers account for 60% percent of this waste and are the fastest growing segment. VYTAL’s mission is to reduce waste from to-go food by making reusable packaging as easy and convenient as disposables. We have therefore developed Germany’s first digital reusable food packaging system which provides the right incentives for usage and quick return of the containers.

Quick turn-around times of our containers are critical for ecological and economic reasons. Quick turn-around times are achieved when the container stock levels with our restaurant partners are as close as possible to the actual demand. To optimize the stock levels and to steer our operations team efficiently, we require a forecast of the number of containers that will checked-out and returned at a partner in the next few days.

Desired Research Results

  • Estimation model to forecast the number of containers which will be checked-out and returned at each partner within the next few days (per container type)
  • Model underlying general trends and seasonality
  • Quantify the impact of external factors (e.g. day of the week, weather conditions, partner network density) on the number of container transactions

Key Research Tasks

  • Preparation of data set for estimation (with support of other Master/ PhD students)
  • Identification of an adequate estimation technique and model setup
  • In-sample forecasts to assess forecast accuracy

What we are offering

  • Access to our broad network in industry and academia
  • Access to all existing data and research
  • Supervision by the founders (PhDs, top management consultants)
  • Integration in a great team and close exchange with other master/PhD students

Timeline for the thesis is Q2+Q3/21. If you are interested, we are looking forward to receiving your CV and a short motivation letter via email to Fabian Barthel, fabian[at]


VYTAL provides Germany’s first digital reusable food packaging scheme as-a-service, i.e. the food containers remain the property of VYTAL but are provided to restaurant partners to avoid packaging waste. At the moment, VYTAL is with more than 700 restaurants, canteens and supermarkets in Germany and Austria. Each of the currently more than 50,000 containers in the system has a unique ID which is represented by a QR-code on the lid of the container. The containers are initially booked into the account of the restaurant and handed over digitally to the customer via the partner app: The partner scans the QR-code on the containers and the QR-code of the customer to transfer the container ( The customer now has 14 days to return the container at any partner where it its booked back into the partner’s account by scanning the QR-code on the container with the partner app. The service is for free for the customer. We charge a small fee per filling to the restaurant (i.e. per check-out of a container from the restaurant to the client). At the moment, we are offering six different packaging forms (different bowl sizes, reusable pizza box, coffee cup), but we are expanding our product portfolio.

In our model, we collect data for each transaction, i.e. for each transfer of a container between a restaurant and a customer. Basically, we collect the ID of the restaurant, the ID of the customer, the ID of the container and the time. Currently, we already have around 700,000 data points for our analysis, but the basis is growing by extremely quickly.