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Ditch Delivery or Drown in Plastic

Food delivery apps are killing the planet.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food packaging, including take-out containers, accounts for 45% of the waste occupying U.S. landfills. We are drowning in plastic and it’ll only get worse if consumers increasingly rely on services like GrubHub and DoorDash to deliver their meals.


And since the U.S. has one of the lowest recycling rates of any developed nation, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, all that plastic packaging will inevitably end up in the landfill—or the ocean. 


“Less than 14% of plastic packaging, which is the fastest-growing form of packaging, gets recycled,” the NRDC reported. “In addition to being a real waste of materials, single-use food and beverage packaging is a prime source of the estimated 269,000 tons of plastic pollution currently floating around in the world's oceans.”


Want to know what that means for the future of the environment in the U.S.? Look to China.


China’s citizens have embraced food delivery apps—one, Meituan, told The New York Times it delivered 6.4 billion food orders, worth $42 billion, last year. Orders made across all delivery apps in China totaled $70 billion, according to the Times. (Comparatively, food delivery sales in the U.S. are expected to total $19 billion this year.)


All those orders add up to a lot of trash in China. “Scientists estimate that the online takeout business in China was responsible for 1.6 million tons of packaging waste in 2017, a ninefold jump from two years before,” the Times reported. “That includes 1.2 million tons of plastic containers, 175,000 tons of disposable chopsticks, 164,000 tons of plastic bags and 44,000 tons of plastic spoons.” 


In 2018, that total rose to 2 billion tons.


And because of a lackluster recycling system in China, all those tons of trash ends up in landfills, or in the sea. “More plastic enters the world’s oceans from China than from any other country,” the Times reported.


The U.S. is only second to China in terms of total plastic waste generation—and recycles less of it.


China recycles “around a quarter of its plastic, government statistics show, compared with less than 10 percent in the United States,” according to the Times.


Can you imagine the damage we’d do if we allowed delivery apps to dominate our food industry? According to the World Economic Forum, “Every year, around eight million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean— and it’s thought that, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (by weight).”


Don’t want to contribute to the problem? Don't want a world where we are drowning in plastic? Reduce delivery and encourage customers to dine in.

It's good for the planet, good for your brand, good for your profits, good for your food quality, and good for your customer experience.


Be part of the solution, not the problem. Promote your restaurant as a place that makes memories, not trash.

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