Uber Eats, Planet Ark partner to help restaurants adopt more sustainable packaging options

Above: Rebecca Gilling, CEO, Planet Ark, and Bec Nyst, GM, Uber Eats ANZ.

Food delivery service Uber Eats has entered a three-year, $13 million partnership with Planet Ark to assist restaurants in moving towards sustainable packaging.

The funding will be used to provide investments and subsidies to make more sustainable packaging options more affordable, programs to educate people on how to best dispose of packaging in an effort to contribute to the circular economy, and incentives for businesses moving towards more sustainable forms of packaging.

The announcement follows a pilot initiative in the last quarter of 2023, where Uber Eats offered all small to medium sized businesses access to $1 million in funding to support the purchase of more sustainable packaging through its packaging partner, Detpak.  

Bec Nyst, GM of Uber Eats ANZ, said the food delivery service is thrilled to partner with Planet Ark to bring information to businesses that are looking to make the shift to more sustainable packaging.

“We’ve already seen the incredible impact our technology can have on the restaurant ecosystem. Since making cutlery opt-in, rather than being included by default, we estimate eaters have helped reduce the equivalent weight of four jumbo jets worth of plastic forks, spoons and the like ending up in Australian landfill,” said Nyst.

“As we have increased our investment in this area and as we progress our partnership with Planet Ark, we’ll look to identify additional system changes to accelerate the uptake of more sustainable packaging options across Australia.

“We’ll use our scale and relationships with suppliers to improve the unit economics on more sustainable packaging and finally we will explore rewarding restaurants investing in this type of packaging with enhanced visibility on our platform.”

Planet Ark’s CEO Rebecca Gilling said there is increasing expectation from consumers, governments and the community to reduce the environmental impact of packaging.

“With the recent announcement that the federal government will become the new regulator of packaging standards, mandating how packaging is designed, setting minimum recycled content requirements, and prohibiting harmful chemicals being used, all ladder up to encouraging developments.

“But while this is a positive outcome, there is still much to do, and there is a clear need to provide support to small businesses – including restaurants – on how to reduce packaging waste best. We’re delighted to be able to announce a multi-year effort with Uber Eats to help them assist their restaurant partners – and to lift the standard for the sector more broadly.”

The announcement also follows the release of the Restaurant Pulsecheck Report, which revealed sustainability was a key focus for restaurant owners, with seven in 10 industry respondents citing it as the most appealing social cause for customers.

Uber Eats will continue to work in partnership with industry experts, like Planet Ark, government and business leaders to share knowledge and address challenges in the packaging lifecycle.

“Uber Eats welcomes the Federal Government’s recent announcement to regulate packaging standards as it will provide national certainty and consistency for businesses. This is a positive signal for restaurants looking to shift to better packaging options,” said Nyst.

“We know many restaurants are already making significant investments in packaging, and a unified national approach delivering consistency on minimum recycled content requirements, will only empower these larger enterprises to continue their investments.

“We believe the most significant impact Uber Eats can have in the immediate term is to educate and support small to medium-sized businesses working in the restaurant and catering industry. This is a multi-year journey, and by starting with Planet Ark’s educational resources, we’ll endeavour to help restaurants make the shift to more sustainable packaging.”

As part of the program, Uber Eats will publish the educational materials developed with Planet Ark on its website – making the assets available to all restaurants – even those not on the platform.

Restaurant & Catering Association CEO Suresh Manickamn said, “The R&CA is pleased to support this partnership between Uber Eats and Planet Ark and the positive impact this partnership will have in reducing the waste footprint of thousands of restaurants. Our industry is committed to being one that is sustainable and contributing positively to the wider community and environment. We look forward to witnessing the fruitful outcomes of this collaboration.”

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