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Groups call for reusable takeout containers

Green Korea claims that a simple change on food delivery apps meant 65 million less disposable utensils were used

Green Korea and Riders Union hold press conference to call on food delivery platforms to introduce the option of reusable containers in front of Baedal Minjok headquarters in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Green Korea and Riders Union hold press conference to call on food delivery platforms to introduce the option of reusable containers in front of Baedal Minjok headquarters in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
A civic group and labor union on Thursday called on food delivery platforms to allow users to choose reusable containers when they order takeout.

“Food deliveries have soared in the past year and eight months, but there are no countermeasures against delivery waste,” Green Korea and Riders Union said during a press conference held in front of Baedal Minjok headquarters in Seoul.

“Currently, the only way consumers can save disposable waste is by not receiving disposable spoons and chopsticks.”

Three in 4 people feel uncomfortable and guilty when they ordered food to go because of the amount of waste generated from disposable utensils and containers, Green Korea said, citing results from a survey they conducted. The findings also showed 40 percent of the respondents said the most urgent issue is to come up with a system to expand using reusable containers to reduce delivery waste.

“If food delivery containers remain disposable as they are right now and cause environmental problems, the food delivery industry cannot last,” Green Korea said.

According to Green Korea, 10,000 residents have signed a petition demanding food delivery platforms provide an option of selecting reusable containers.

The environmental group called on food delivery platforms to disclose information of restaurants that utilize reusable containers and lower the fees for them, so more restaurants can take part in the eco-friendly movement.

The group also said that food delivery platform operators have the responsibility to retrieve and clean reusable containers as it is a part of the entire delivery process.

Green Korea pointed out that a small change by service providers can have a huge impact.

Last week, the environmental group claimed that the number of disposable eating utensils decreased by 65 million in June alone after the country’s three biggest food delivery platforms -- Baedal Minjok, Yogiyo and Coupang Eats -- changed their applications’ default setting to “not accepting disposable utensils” for users when they order food.

The previous default setting meant users would be given disposable utensils along with their orders. The three food delivery platforms made the switch at the beginning of June.

The environmental group said it based their calculations on Statistics Korea’s data of transactions made on food delivery apps and data from the three delivery apps on the proportion of people who ordered food without requesting disposable utensils.

“The delivery apps only changed a sentence, but the noticeable decrease in the number of disposable eating utensils shows how much impact they have,” Green Korea said.

“Delivery app companies need to take action in order to reduce delivery waste.”

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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