Is your preferred home food delivery outlet using ethical packaging?

No matter where you are in the world there is a culture of ordering ready to eat food, whether it’s ‘to go’ or ‘home delivered’. The cultural cuisines and meal menus are vast and it’s often a headache to decide what to eat. As humans, we make purchasing decisions on price, availability and our ‘in the moment’ desire (Impulse purchasing). Shouldn’t we also be making our decision on whether it’s ethical to order food from one certain service or not?

There’s a global shift within the global food industry to become more eco-friendly, reduce single-use plastic and use ethical food packaging. But is this a factor in purchasing decisions? Are we aware of the efforts of the industry and how can customers drive change?

Food delivery is booming!

A report released in 2019 valued the global online food delivery and takeaway market at over $53bn. Now with the pandemic creating a major boom, that figure is much higher. The food industry has pledged to virtually eliminate the use of single-use plastic and to reach net-zero on carbon emissions by 2040. It’s a major task but it is possible as long as the industry pulls together and commits to change.

There are many organisations that are already making a difference and in fact, some authorities are demanding change. In the US state of Washington, Governor Jay Inslee is set to sign into law a bipartisan bill to ban polystyrene foam takeaway containers. While in the UK and Europe DEFRA’s ban on single-use plastic is just the start of dramatic change. Yet, there is still much more to be done.

Many takeaway and food outlets utilise third party delivery services, such as Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats. These delivery companies are eco-aware when it comes to packaging with many using recyclable or compostable boxes and wooden cutlery. However, it’s the food outlets discretion to use the packaging supplied by the delivery service. Instead, they can use their own chosen, possibly plastic packaging. This is simply unacceptable. For example, in the UK Just Eat is trialling Notpla’s seaweed-coated boxes. Yet, only 11 of its restaurant partners have agreed to join the trial.

In app options? Are these possible?

As a consumer living in a world where food can be delivered straight to my door via a simple app on my smartphone, I’m acutely aware that the option to select eco-friendly packaging is not available. While all packaging should be compostable or biodegradable, we know that that’s simply not the case. Without research, we just don’t know whether our chosen outlet is using recyclable packaging for food. Using a delivery app means the only options I have are which outlet to use, how much do I want to pay and what cuisine shall I eat? I don’t have the option to choose whether I want to order from an ethically minded outlet or not. Surely a simple addition to the application could enable this to happen? If it did would we be more ethically conscious about our choices of food?

Are niche kitchens are more conscious?

During the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a huge increase in home-cooking. Ingredient delivery boxes such as Gousto and Mindful Chef saw increased interest as people had to stay in and ‘learn’ to cook. In addition, there was a surge in home-cooking businesses being launched – where good, quality, hygiene rated cooks could cook meals at home for themselves and others and have them delivered to local areas and communities. Thus becoming their own boss from home. But what about the ethical side of this food delivery service? Again how can the consumer be sure they’re ordering their nutritional meals from someone that also cares about the environment.

One service that launched last year is NoshyCircle. It enables home cooks to create nutritional meals that are delivered hot to local communities in compostable or biodegradable packaging. All cooks on this platform agree to abide by the NoshyCircle ethics. This means they must use the eco-friendly food containers provided by NoshyCircle when dishing up portions for customers. Customers ordering via the NoshyCircle app do not need to worry about whether their food packaging is green, as it’s a requirement for all cooks. They simply have to decide upon which nutritional meal they wish to order.

Subha Ganesh, founder of NoshyCircle said, “It was always a part of the plan to create a sustainable company. The team reviewed around ten different compostable packaging companies before finally signing a deal with Ambican as it had some really good, ethical and unique products for all type of cuisines. We want our customer to know we care about them and their environment. We offer healthy, nutritional meals and have a zero food wastage policy. Recently we partnered with Treesforcities to plant several trees each month to offset the carbon emission from our delivery vehicles. We’re constantly looking to further enhance our sustainability practices. Later in the year, we’re hoping to introduce electric delivery vehicles.”

NoshyCircle’s food containers are 100% compostable and biodegradable

Customers can drive change

While the food industry is attempting to drive change it has to also be the desire of the customer. We need to shop ethically, reduce and recycle the number of carrier bags and purchase foods in non-plastic packaging. However, we also need to order ethically. If we took the time to research or ask, whether our chosen food outlet used ethical packaging and steered away from those that don’t then they would be forced to make a change. We, as the customer have the power to drive change.

Moving beyond 2021, it will become clearer to businesses in all industries, from technology and fashion to food service and more, that they must become more sustainable. As residents of this planet, we, the consumer, must adapt our mindset to become more eco-aware in our day to day lives. From the clothes we wear to the food we order, we must be a force for change.