By Joshua Martyn
Easy-to-order, a time-saver, and affordable… Food delivery services have become the go-to option for consumers. But if the packaging isn’t sustainability-checked, the environment will pay the price.
As we ponder in to what’s on the plate today.
We take in many factors before coming to a conclusive decision. From our WFH schedule which has put the work-life, home-life balance in a quandary; leaving us pressed for time to prepare home-cooked meals, to having to pause a movie in order to cook. We inadvertently reach for our phones and within a few taps have our favorite meal delivered to us – piping hot.
While this surplus of innovation adds to our convenience factor and needn’t be shrugged upon. It’s the plate or takeaway packaging that needs serious introspection.
Single-use plastic has always been a large component of the food packaging market. With the online food delivery market set to hit $161.74 Billion by 2023, let’s look at ways to make sure that your delivery and takeout packaging does not add to the 12 million tonnes of plastic being poured into the oceans.
Market to an eco-conscious generation:
Whether deliberate or not, most delivery platform’s purported goal is to do away with home-cooked meals. This especially aligns with millennials, whose drive towards instant gratification may bring about a time when the height of their cooking prowess is restricted to a boiled egg.
With that being the case, studies also reveal that millennials are more eco-conscious and are willing to pay more for sustainable products. A precedent that restaurants and takeaways joints need to take note of, as they serve a consumer base that not only depends on them but as their spending habits become more influential, the demand for eco-friendly food packaging will also increase.
Innovate packaging using the reduce, reuse and recycle principle:
From zero-waste restaurants to edible cutlery, dine-in cuisine has shown innovation to control the amount of waste they are generating and delivery services will need to follow suit.
Inspired by consumer’s newfound appreciation towards delivery and takeaway, restaurants need to find packaging elements that are built for a circular economy. Whether it is home compostable, biodegradable, or plant-based materials; the need to ethically dispose or reuse food packaging should come to the fore.
Small efforts for consumers; can lead to big gains:
The increase in food delivery is also leading to air pollution in many metros around the world. An estimated 65 million meal containers are discarded in smog-filled cities in China where the takeout delivery ratio is amongst the highest on the planet.
To reduce air pollution, order from the nearest restaurant possible. If you’re picking up your takeaway, reduce packaging waste by simply bringing in your own reusable containers. Taking a short stroll will have long-lasting benefits on your health and the environment.
Takeout food is here to stay – deal with it – one eco-step at a time:
Wide-scale implementation of new packaging material is no mean feat and requires time, but you can adopt a few quick changes before going the distance.
- Delivery apps can take the lead and allows users to purchase eco-friendly food packaging online rather than depending on restaurants.
- Restaurants should allow delivery apps the option of acquiring cutlery, delivery bags, ketchup sachets, or other condiments as this might not be a requisite for home delivery.
- Eliminate excess packaging or wrapping wherever necessary.
- Restaurant with eco-friendly packaging should be labeled on the app
Conclusion: Human-level approaches in collaboration with the value chain can make takeaway and delivery packaging more sustainable. With a booming food delivery online platform set to usher in an army of new users and make defining changes to the food packaging landscape – driving sustainability in packaging should be prioritized before quick wins.