Single-use plastics refer to plastic that is used once and then disposed of. These plastics are commonly used as food packaging for deliveries, resulting in tonnes of waste that is not biodegradable. With an enormous amount of food being delivered as 70% of Americans are reported to order takeout or delivery to one to three times a week (Ocean Conservancy), hundreds of billions of single-use plastics are disposed of without ever being recycled. Packaging such as fibre bowls and compostable cups add to the degradation of the environment by leaching harmful chemicals and releasing methane when broken down, respectively. The pandemic has further exacerbated this situation by increasing food delivery by about 15%.

In comes DeliverZero, a start-up founded by Lauren Sweeney that delivers food in reusable containers. With their main aim being to phase out single-use plastic food packaging and replace it with a network of easy-to-deliver and return food containers, food ordered is delivered in their reusable sturdy green polypropylene containers that can be returned to the delivery person the next time food is ordered from DeliverZero or dropped off at any restaurant on their platform. Customers can even keep the containers for the price of $3.25 plus tax for each container.  Since their launch, DeliverZero has taken off with over 130 restaurants in the two boroughs now dispatching their food in their signature containers, which can be returned, washed, and reused 1000 times apiece. This is important since reusable containers have a lower carbon and water footprint and use less energy than single-use containers even after washing over their lifetime.

Dispatch Goods, co-founded by Maia Tekle and Lindsey Hoell on the other hand aims to make reuse as routine as recycling. Customers can order food directly from their website or a partner restaurant. Through Dispatch Goods, customers can opt for having their food delivered in reusable containers that come in a bag. These are then left in the bag and the company makes trips around various neighbourhoods to collect, clean, and redistribute them within the network.

Companies DeliverZero and Dispatch Goods are important in the fight against plastic as they offer excellent alternatives to single-use plastic and thus minimise the impact it has on the environment.


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