Online food delivery services commit to plastics takeaway

The war on plastics has entered the rapidly growing online food delivery sector, with industry competitors Deliveroo and Just Eat both making pledges today (1 March) to cut down the amount of plastic packaging used by customers.

Online customers of both companies will now be given the option to opt out of receiving items such as plastic cutlery, straws and sauce sachets items through a pre-ticked box.

Deliveroo has vowed to work with manufacturers to start producing more alternatives to plastics. The firm plans to use its purchasing power to buy an extensive range of sustainable packaging, thus reducing the cost for its restaurants to use.

Major rival Just Eat has gone one step further by announcing it will stop selling all single-use plastic items in its shop from today. The move comes after a consumer survey found that three-quarters (74%) of people would prefer their takeaway to arrive without items such as plastic cutlery and straws.

“Many of the plastics polluting our oceans are by-products of food and drink consumption,” Just Eat managing director Graham Corfield said.

“As the market leader in online food delivery, we are using our influence to drive more environmentally-friendly behaviour among our restaurant partners and customers.”

Longer term changes

An innovation platform is being launched by Just East to foster R&D investment into single-use plastic alternatives. To start with, Just Eat is partnering with Skipping Rocks Lab which will trial restaurant launches of edible seaweed-based sauce sachets that decompose in six weeks.

Just Eat will work with the Sustainable Restaurant Association to develop a series of resources for the company’s 28,000 restaurant partners to help them and their customers reduce plastic usage.

SRA chief executive Andrew Stephed said the momentum on plastics waste has created a “huge opportunity for the restaurant sector to make a massive impact by changing the behaviour of customers and those that work in the industry”.

“Just Eat is showing great leadership by announcing this initial package of measures, but also committing to spearhead longer term changes that will have a hugely positive impact on the industry and the environment,” he said.

Khan’s concern

These announcements come on the same day that London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote to the largest takeaway delivery app companies to ask them to help cut unnecessary single-use plastics from their deliveries.

Khan’s letter reads: “Usually these takeaways are delivered directly to people’s homes where there is no need for additional cutlery and these pointless plastics can end up straight in the bin.

“I want these small but significant steps to have a big impact on waste reduction and change the way we needlessly use plastics. I hope other food businesses and retailers across the city get on board with similar measures to help us drive down plastic waste and protect our environment.”

Business and the resource revolution at edie Live

Plastics is a hot topic right now and the Government’s 25-Year Plan to Improve the Environment has promised action and given resource-efficiency professionals some much-needed encouragement. But 2042 is a long way off, and questions remain when it comes to the ‘how’.

Speakers from WRAP, tech UK and the Environmental Audit Committee will explore what the 25-Year Plan means for business and investigate how resource efficiency professionals can turn that ambition into action on day one of edie Live 22 May at the NEC in Birmingham. Click here for more information

George Ogleby

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