Deliveroo to cut down on takeaway plastics as it launches opt-in button for cutlery

The food delivery firm said it intended to lead by example, persuading manufacturers to start producing more alternatives to polluting plastics and using its purchasing power to buy up a wider range of sustainable packaging, making it more affordable for its restaurants to use.

Emma Cox, the company’s product marketing manager, said convenience culture must not come at an environmental cost.

“It’s going to involve everyone in the food industry coming together to do this and also customers playing their part,” she said.

“We’ve been sitting down with our restaurant partners and manufacturers to identify where there are gaps and where we need to find better plastic alternatives.”

From next week, users will also find an extra button on its app where they will have to opt-in if they want disposable cutlery.

Ms Cox said: “We’ve had a wave of customers asking us to do more and that’s why we’re so committed to delivering on this. We want to deliver food in the best way possible whilst also reducing our impact on the environment.”

Matthew Ford, a manager at London eatery The Diner, has been trialling not including cutlery with his restaurant’s Deliveroo orders.

“It’s worked really well, we saw an immediate impact, 90% of our customers chose to opt out of cutlery, which ultimately really reduces non-recyclable waste.”

In the last few years, technology and innovation has led to greater choice when it comes to sustainable packaging – from sugar cane boxes to compostable cardboards. If Deliveroo restaurants have to use plastic, crucially they are being asked to use one that can be recycled.

Mr Ford said making plastic alternatives more affordable would make all the difference.

“They are a very big company and they’re global, so having them implement and stand behind us when we’re making changes is a fantastic result,” he said.

“We are finding suppliers are waking up, we just need to make this more affordable for the wider masses.”

According to analysts NPD Group, last year in Britain the home delivery market grew 10 times faster than our appetite for eating-out did. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he hoped other online brands would follow suit.

“I’ve written to the largest takeaway delivery app companies to ask them to help cut unnecessary single-use plastics from their deliveries,” he said. “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.”

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said he was “delighted” at Deliveroo’s move.

“Industry has a vital role to play in driving out avoidable plastic waste so we can all leave our planet in a better state than we found it,” he said.

“We’ve committed through our 25 year environment plan to eliminating avoidable plastic altogether by the end of 2042, and are already taking action with a wold-leading ban on microbeads, plans to extend the 5p plastic bag charge, improving recycling rates, and exploring plastic free aisles in supermarkets.”

Sky’s Ocean Rescue has set out to shine a spotlight on the issues affecting ocean health – it is in our oceans where the consequences of our throwaway culture is being felt the most.

Plastic makes up 95% of the rubbish that is found in the oceans. It is estimated between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of it pollutes the world’s waters every year.

Tisha Brown, oceans campaigner with Greenpeace, said everyone had to step up and take more responsibility.

She said: “When you realise that a container can end up in our environment for hundreds of years, that it can cause harm to marine animals and our environments, and even end up back on our dinner plates, we really have to ask ourselves what convenience actually means.”

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