Excess single-use plastic items and sauce packets arrive frequently in takeout orders. A number of these are disposed of right when people are done with their food, but that waste can be cut down pretty easily. How so? If restaurants and delivery services stop adding them to our takeout bags to begin with. That’s what United Kingdom’s takeout service, Just Eat, will be doing after a survey showed a majority of their customers don’t want these items anyway.
Nearly 75 percent of Just Eat’s customers would like to decline receiving plastic eating utensils, straws, and packaged condiments when ordering their food based on recent research by the company. Nearly half of them would be more inclined to order from restaurants that don’t give them these extra items in the first place.
Research was conducted with One Poll over a two-day period (February 28th and March 1st). Over 1,900 customers that have ordered delivery food through the service in the UK responded to the survey. Immediately after the results, Just Eat will no longer supply plastic packaging to their affiliated restaurants. This will lead to over one million plastic products eliminated, which was the amount sold in 2017.
Instead of completely dropping the items altogether, the company will add a tick box for customers to choose whether or not they want to receive them. This will be pre-marked to opt out of it, so customers will need to untick the box if they want items like plastic forks and sauce packets. This is an option that's available on the app and website when customers fill out their orders.
“In the short term, that means helping our customers opt-out of excess plastics and completely halting the sale of single-use plastics from our restaurant partner shop,” Graham Corfield, managing director of Just Eat, said in a press release. “In the medium term, it means educating our 28,000 restaurant partners to reduce their plastic usage.”
Another way that Just Eat is attacking single-use plastics is researching and developing a better alternative. Since many people don’t need utensils but would still like sauces, they will partner with Skipping Rocks Lab to trial-run edible condiment packages. These also have the ability to decompose in just six weeks.
We’ve seen food delivery services in the United States take measures to eliminate plastic waste. Through Grubhub, customers have the options to decline items like napkins and plastic utensils. Unlike Just Eat, these items aren't automatically checked. Bags they give to restaurants are also 100 percent biodegradable and are still recommended to be recycled after use.
“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,” Andrew Stephen, CEO of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, said in a press release.