Uber Eats trials reusable takeaway packaging in Central London

The food delivery platform launched the trial on Tuesday (18 April), in partnership with Camberwell-based reusable packaging scale-up Again.

Again is building the supply chain infrastructure for reusable packaging, launching advanced packaging cleaning facilities it calls ‘CleanCells’ to efficiently sort, clean and redistribute packaging back to brands for reuse. It is doing so with grant funding from the £1.4m ‘Bring it Back’ initiative, managed by environmental charity Hubbub with funding raised from Starbucks’ levy on single-use cups.

During the trial, Uber Eats users ordering from participating restaurants in and around Camberwell will be able to opt-in to receive their food in reusable containers and bags. The containers will come with a QR code, which they can scan to select a day for collection. They will be asked to rinse their containers and set them out for collection.

Couriers will then collect the containers and take them to Again’s first CleanCell in Camberwell for cleaning and onward return to the participating restaurants. The packaging will be used to house a wide range of foods including burgers, sushi, kebabs, noodles and curries.

Various incentives will be tested throughout the trial to measure what motivates customers to opt in to reusables and to return their packaging.

Hubbub co-founder and director Gavin Ellis said: “By integrating the reuse option into a delivery app used by many households and by offering doorstep collections, we hope to see significant uptake of reusable takeaway packaging. The trial will help create a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t at a local level, and hopefully lead to wider roll out of this reuse system across more businesses and areas.”

Uber Eats’ general manager for the UK and Ireland, Matthew Price, added: “This pilot aims to make reusable packing more accessible for customers and restaurants alike.”

The shift to reusable packaging in the food-to-go sector has been challenging, with disposables still accounting for the vast majority of packaging. However, since the start of the year, the German Government has made it a legal requirement for all food businesses except smaller SMEs to offer reusable options. The option could requiring customers to bring their own container.

Additionally, in France, food outlets that offer both eat-in and takeaway options are set to be banned from giving disposables to those eating and drinking on site. The rule applies to any restaurant with more than 20 seats and covers cups, food containers and cutlery.

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