Whether you've had a long day at the office, you can't be bothered to cook or simply can't cook to save your life (I, ashamedly, fall into the last bucket), we've all relied on the odd takeaway from time to time. Unfortunately, however, this is often not guilt-free and comes with a problem - single-use plastics or containers. Whilst some takeaway restaurants are beginning to adopt more environmentally friendly practices and are using recyclable dishes in which to package their food, all of this still adds to the single-use problem.
Enter PriestmanGoode, a company that has developed an incentive-based food delivery system that they say could lead to more consumers using and returning bioplastic containers. The system is called Zero and works entirely on a customer-rewards basis, whereby consumers pay a small fee upfront for the packaging when ordering their food, which would then be reimbursed on their next delivery when the containers are returned. Whilst this does sound like a great way for these restaurants to tie their customers in to repeat purchases, its primary goal is to address the single-use problem.
All of the Zero boxes are (obviously) made from sustainable materials such as cocoa bean shells, mycelium and pineapple husk, which have been selected specifically for the functionality they provide. For example, Mycelium has properties that would allow it to be used as an insulation layer in the delivery bag, whilst Piatex, an alternative leather made using cellulose fibres from pineapple leaves, would be used for the bag lip. PriestmanGoode have even thought of how to address spillages by using an algae based material.
The boxes also benefit from a bento-style stacking system that removes the need for multiple lids. If you aren't familiar with this type of packing system then the base of each container acts a lid for another container by sitting on top of it - oh molto ben-to. Another great element to this scheme is that it champions the principles of the circular economy as these boxes are transferrable between restaurants. Each vendor would simply need to wash the packaging and it would be go back into the system to be used again.
PriestmanGoode's approach to this concept has been rooted in the impact that adding value has on behaviour, citing the widespread reduction in plastic bag consumption in the UK through the introduction of the 5p and 10p tax as one example of how effective such a system can be. By "introducing a reward-based system, whereby consumers would be given incentives, such as discounts, for returning takeaway packaging into the system, we know we would have a positive impact". All in all, the concept is one with significant potential to address the problem of single-use plastics with the caveat that the incentives for the consumer would have be good enough and the prices for the vendors low enough to tempt them into entering into such a system. At the end of the day, people are concerned about the environment but at the right price or for the right incentive.
Discover more about LARQ at: Priestmangoode.com.
Photography credit : LARQ