Singapore’s takeaway culture is ubiquitous.
We order take-out when we’re lazy to find seats at the hawker centre, or when the weather is too hot, or when we are just too busy with work… the reasons go on.
In U.S., the food delivery industry is worth $43 billion, according to this, and besides telling us that people consume a lot of food at home, it also tells us that we’re using a lot of disposable packaging and cutlery.
The Straits Times reported in 2016 a study done by the National Environment Agency (NEA) found that food packaging waste in Singapore made up 11% of 766,800 tonnes of plastic waste, and 14% of 588,500 tonnes of paper and cardboard waste in 2015.
The report went on to say that waxed brown paper packaging were more common than the styrofoam boxes, clear plastic containers, and plastic bags we use now, which causes more harm to the environment.
So, we order food online and have them delivered to our workplace, our homes, but at what cost to our planet?
On World Environment Day today (5 June), Deliveroo Singapore pledges to do its part to cut down the use of plastic with the introduction of an opt-in function for cutlery.
Get It Only If You Really Need It
The opt-in for cutlery feature allows customers to choose whether they want to receive cutlery with their order.
Users will see the following message when ordering from Deliveroo: “Help us reduce plastic waste – only request cutlery when you need.”
According to Deliveroo, when they trialled this in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 100% of restaurants involved in this move saw a reduction of cutlery being used, with 85% seeing a reduction of over 50%.
The feature was introduced in the United Kingdoms (UK) in February this year and now, 91% of meals there are delivered without cutlery.
This is happening in nine countries, including Singapore and Hong Kong, which also now sees 94% of meals delivered without cutlery.
Deliveroo Singapore expects “similarly high results” here where they work with close to 4,000 restaurant partners, and they are confident that the plastic reduction will be “significant”.
This function will go ‘live’ one week from today on 12 June.
Wants To Lead In Sustainable Packaging Innovation
To support and encourage restaurant partners to go green, Deliveroo will distribute 100,000 environmentally-friendly straws to partners in Singapore, and a total of 1 million straws across its markets.
These biodegradable straws are made of polylactic acid (PLA), also known as corn starch, which is a renewable material that does not give off any of the toxic chemicals associated with conventional plastic, and are certified compostable.
The straws will be available to partners on request and on a first-come-first-serve basis to replace the plastic ones that are packed with the beverages ordered by customers via the Deliveroo app.
This is one way the company encourages partners to try to adopt non-plastic options and move towards more sustainable practices.
Another initiative Deliveroo is embarking on in their journey to encouraging more zero-waste practices, is the development of non-plastic eco-friendly packaging options.
The eco-friendly packaging will be competitively-priced for their restaurant partners, according to them, and the costs will not be passed down to customers.
Deliveroo expressed that they work with their partners to “roll out packaging such that it does not impact their bottom line”.
They cited that Deliveroo UK does not make a profit off the biodegradable packaging for restaurants as they are offered at cost price.
In Singapore, VIOS by Blu Kouzina, a restaurant partner at their centralised kitchen, Deliveroo Editions, was able to introduce biodegradable packaging because of the low startup and operation costs of being there.
“We are heartened by Deliveroo’s proactive support to reduce plastic use in Singapore, and are proud to be a partner with them on such sustainable initiatives,” said Dennis Tsakiris, Founder and Owner of Blu Kouzina.
“Environmental responsibility is one of our core values, having already rolled out biodegradable packaging at VIOS, our app-exclusive menu for Deliveroo.”
He added, “We look forward to working with Deliveroo on lessening the environmental impact of plastic packaging and the waste it creates.”
Deliveroo currently has a team in their headquarters in London working on the development of their eco-friendly packaging and plans to rope in manufacturers to help with the developing of their “first-of-its-kind sustainable packaging”.
The food delivery company said that biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable options will be available in all markets by the end of the year.
“We know this is only the start. We will be working with our restaurant partners and customers to address this long-term challenge that matters to all of us here at Deliveroo,” shared Sid Shanker, General Manager of Deliveroo in Singapore.
“Deliveroo wants to transform the way people eat, ensuring everybody can have great food when and where they want it, and we want them to enjoy meals that are sustainably delivered and packaged.”
Featured Image Credit: Sethlui.com