Why Now? Eliminating Restaurant Waste Is Vital

test of to-go trash on a sidewalk
Photo by Paul Schellekens

You might wonder who in their right mind would launch a sustainability start-up in the
shadows of COVID-19 with the world filled with so much sadness and uncertainty. Hear us
loud and clear though: it has never been more urgent that we work to eliminate the rapidly growing single-use waste problem that is suffocating our planet.

Some Facts About Restaurant Waste and Sustainability:

  • In January of this year, Thailand banned plastic bags at major stores. But as fear grew
    that COVID had an increased risk of transfer via reusable bags, the ban was reversed
    and, just like that, Thailand now expects to see a 30% increase in plastic use this year.
    California’s plastic bag ban has also been reversed and data suggests our numbers will
    disappointingly follow suit.
  • The Thailand Environment Institute said that plastic consumption is up over 60% in
    Bangkok alone and that most of the waste is contaminated food packaging which they
    are unable to recycle.
  • Prior to COVID, the US was only recycling about 9% of the single-use plastic we
    generate. With furloughs and layoffs affecting workers at recycling centers as much as
    other businesses, our increased use of plastic is bypassing what little recycling
    capacity we have and heading straight to the landfill and into our oceans.
  • Chain restaurants like Just Salad, who even have a C-level Sustainability expert on
    their team, have been forced to ditch their reusable bowls and go back to their old
    plastic ways to keep up with demand and battle supply chain issues. Prior to COVID it’s
    estimated that they were keeping 75,000 pounds of plastic out of circulation.
  • At the end of May, consumer meal delivery spending more than doubled in the US,
    year over year — most of it delivered in plastic packaging. Furthermore, COVID has
    unlocked a 23% increase in Americans ordering from food delivery platforms, which
    means they have tapped into a whole new demographic.

With the 2nd wave COVID threats showing signs of imminence, and restaurants becoming
ever-more reliant on their delivery business and plastic to-go materials, a second surge in
single-use plastic is on the way as well. We need transparency so that JYBErs can order food from restaurants making Earth-friendly packaging choices, and so we have the leverage we need to promote crucial change to those restaurants not yet on board.

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