Corporate Responsibility
- August 4, 2021

Packaging the future: Introducing Delivery Hero’s sustainable packing program

As drastic changes in the environment become a more pressing problem, Delivery Hero is taking important steps to do its part. 

At Delivery Hero, we believe in delivering solutions. A large contributing factor to worldwide pollution is plastic waste. Delivery Hero is committed to creating a more sustainable delivery ecosystem by introducing an industry-leading standard for environmentally friendly solutions. That’s why Delivery Hero is now launching a Global Sustainable Packaging Program to address plastic waste and reduce carbon emissions. Read on to find out more about the journey that led to the launch of the program.

The simple case for sustainable packaging 

Globally, most food-contact packaging ends up in landfills or incineration. This is because the presence of food residue makes it impossible to recycle effectively given the limitations of the current global recycling infrastructure. 

Additionally, the vast majority of takeaway food-contact packaging is made from petrochemical plastics. The landfilling and incineration of this waste results in larger and larger landfills as plastic cannot break down – or in the case of incineration, the release of high amounts of carbon and other toxins into the atmosphere. Considering these realities, paper or plant-based packaging provides greatly improved environmental outcomes in both scenarios.

This is where the Sustainable Packing Program offers an alternative. The program provides an eco-friendly, 100% plant-based and perfluoroalkoxy-alkanes (PFAS) free alternative to plastic packaging for local restaurants across the globe. PFAS (known as forever chemicals) are man-made compounds commonly used in food packaging to provide liquid and grease resistance. However, they are incredibly harmful to the environment and contribute greatly to pollution as they cannot be broken down naturally. 

The journey to setting up a sustainable program 

The pathway that led to the conception of the Sustainable Packing Program was an unconventional one. The program is led by Patrick Rowse, who oversees the program as its Global Program Manager. Patrick’s journey with Delivery Hero began in February 2019, when he attended a business presentation at the Berlin HQ, which included a lively discussion on sustainability and business innovation. Later that year, Patrick joined Delivery Hero’s Sustainability Department with a mission to drive sustainability research and innovation, together with Director of Sustainability, CSR, and Safety, Jeff Oatham. (Read: 10 questions with Jeff Oatham on how to build a better world through corporate responsibility)  

Thorough research and data analysis proved that by introducing a sustainable packaging scheme, Delivery Hero could generate impactful, scalable, and positive environmental outcomes while adding additional value for its restaurant partners and consumers worldwide. With enough data to start developing materials and designs, the Global Sustainable Packaging Program kicked off in earnest. 

The search for the right material  

The program was not without challenges though. When it came to picking the right material to use for the packaging, there were two factors involved. It had to be functional, but also environmentally friendly. The selection process began with 26 viable global suppliers that were then narrowed down to two through a reductive process of testing.

Nine months into developing a substantial partnership with a potential supplier, the team ran into issues, when it was discovered that unwanted chemicals were found in prototype units. In order to ensure the high-quality standards were met, the call was made that the global tender needed to be reopened and that a new supplier needed to be found. In order to make up for lost time, the Sustainability and the Procurement teams rapidly reopened the global search, and what had previously taken them nine months was achieved in only three.

As the cost of packaging is the most pressing factor when it comes to making the switch from traditional single-use plastic, a key aspect when it came to selecting the material was ensuring an affordable price, even compared to the widely available plastic options. Making the packaging attractive in this way makes it accessible to a large demographic of business owners and restaurants, thus increasing its usage and benefits to the environment.

Furthermore, the new packaging is plant-based and ASTM D6868 compostable (North American Standard), additionally it utilizes natural plant-based inks for all the branding on the packaging. The new range of products includes a burger box, different compartment containers (for example, for curry and rice or pasta and fried food), soup containers in different sizes, a salad bowl, and a sauce/condiment container.

Creating a greener future

Currently, the program is launching in eight markets. However, the long-term goal is to take the program worldwide, at first by doubling its availability. The program is currently available to restaurants in Austria, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Qatar, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. When it came to picking the markets for the pilot phase, a key aspect was that in order to get a global overview, at least one country from each region had to be selected. 

Delivery Hero’s commitment to sustainability stretches beyond this initiative; Our CEO and Co-Founder Niklas Östberg joined the campaign “Leaders for Climate Action” in 2019 and pledged to measuring, offsetting, and reducing carbon emissions. As a company, we have set ourselves the ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral globally by the end of 2021 (we are currently already carbon neutral in Europe and Latin America). We continue to invest in sustainable solutions for a greener future.

As the climate crisis continues to escalate, it is the responsibility of every company to contribute to the fight in an active and timely manner. The Sustainable Packaging Program is a part of the continuous mission at Delivery Hero to actively do its part for a better future. As the program expands and grows, it is just the start of an ongoing journey towards a greener future. Find out more about our commitment to sustainability.

Written by

Katharina Grob

Content Writer Delivery Hero

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