Leading food delivery companies in Hong Kong, Deliveroo and foodpanda signed an industry-wide commitment today to be a part of WWF’s Plastic ACTion Initiative (PACT) to reduce the use for single use plastic. The pledge signing ceremony took place at WWF Central Visitor Centre. This is a major sectoral push for the industry to work collectively towards the common vision of No Plastic in Nature by 2030. The two companies, representing over 90% of the food delivery industry, pledged to team up with WWF-Hong Kong to set up measurable actions to engage restaurants and consumers with the aim of removing all unsustainable packaging by 2025 and to establish a more circular economy for plastic in the city.
Driven by the rising concern around the crisis of plastic pollution, WWF-Hong Kong conducted a public survey from November 2018 to February 2019. The survey reveals that four in five Hong Kong consumers (nearly 80%) support regulating single-use plastic tableware in the F&B industry. With this wave of support from the public, WWF has initiated PACT. A coalition for businesses and business solutions, the PACT initiative aims to translate ambitious corporate commitments into tangible, science-based systemic changes to address the plastic crisis.
Signatories to PACT commit to the following:
Implementing a default opt-out option for single-use plastic cutlery
Supporting consumer behaviour changes by adopting eco-friendly alternatives to plastic
Setting up a programme that encourages merchants and restaurants to continuously improve their packaging materials
Communicating successes in packaging sustainability improvements to stakeholders
At the signing ceremony today, Peter Cornthwaite, CEO of WWF-Hong Kong thanked Deliveroo and foodpanda for their strong support and said, “Our Earth Hour call to action in 2019 was to get the F&B industry to agree to a voluntary ban on plastic cutlery in all operations by 2022 at the latest. We need to see faster adoption of companies, particularly those in the take out delivery business in taking single use plastics and packaging out of their operations of restaurants that use delivery services. The time for action has started now!”
“Plastic pollution is reaching record levels, with very serious impacts not only on the environment, but also for human health. At WWF, we recognise the effectiveness of business at influencing change, so it is really encouraging to see that businesses are taking responsibilities to rein in the plastic crisis. PACT is only a starting point to catalyse actions. We need to take immediate action on the government, business and consumer sectors to escape from excessive plastic consumption, “ said Dr Laurence McCook, Head of Oceans Conservation of WWF-Hong Kong.
Brian Lo, General Manager of Deliveroo Hong Kong said, “Here at Deliveroo, we see the commitment to WWF’s PACT initiative to be a crucial step towards building a more sustainable future for the food delivery industry. It is fundamental for not only us but the entire F&B industry to rethink our approach when it comes to packaging and products. We have stopped offering plastic-ware cutlery by default since 2018. We are determined to help our restaurant partners to adopt more eco-friendly practices and become environmentally responsible businesses by supplying them with competitive prices for sustainable packaging such as plant-based sources, certified sustainable paper and recycled paper products.”
Arun Makhija, CEO of foodpanda Hong Kong, said, “We’re constantly challenging ourselves to keep delivering customers the food they love, while minimizing the negative environmental impact tied to the industry – predominantly through waste generation. Since 2018, we have been making a step towards driving a more sustainable delivery service by having customers opt out of tableware, this year we are committed to do more. With the continued hyper-growth of food delivery in Hong Kong, we are in a unique position to heavily influence the packaging practices of the F&B industry. We’re looking forward to taking this collaborative approach with WWF and other food delivery players in the market, to ensure we’re putting into practice every sustainability avenue available to us.”
As the first initiative after joining WWF’s PACT pledge and to raise awareness to the general public for reducing plastic consumption, Deliveroo has partnered with WWF to launch co-branded paper bags at its Editions sites. From 18 March 2020 onwards, customers ordering from Editions sites will receive paper bags with a fun visual that encourages them to help reduce plastic consumption.
foodpanda is dedicated to the pledge, by not only signing the commitment with WWF but also ensuring that they promote the collaboration across all marketing communications channels and continuously encourage opt out of tableware, in order to arouse public’s environmental awareness. In line with this, they have made the promise to activate online formats to promote the initiatives for the PACT – so as to minimise offline waste and further add to the sustainable efforts.
According to Deliveroo and foodpanda, the two companies have reduced a total of 60 tonnes of plastic in 2019. They estimate more reduction to 130 tonnes of plastic in the coming 12 months as the measures in the PACT are introduced.
Dining wares make up around 10% of disposal plastic waste in Hong Kong. Despite efforts to increase recycling, most plastic waste ends up in the landfill or in the ocean or other water bodies. According to the Coastal Watch Report by WWF-Hong Kong, single-used tableware including cutlery, containers and straws are amongst the top 10 biggest sources of marine litter in Hong Kong. Plastic breaks into invisible tiny fragments (“microplastics”); and on average, humans are ingesting approximately 5g of plastic per week, according to research commissioned by WWF.
Addressing the root cause of plastic pollution, WWF-Hong Kong calls on the government to regulate single-use plastics in the F&B industry, by setting a timeline in 2021 for phasing out all single-use plastic tableware and banning polystyrene by 2022.
Commitment of the business sector to reducing single use plastic echoes WWF Earth Hour’s call for changing the way we do business to protect and restore the Nature. Started by WWF and partners as a symbolic lights-out event in 2007, Earth Hour is now one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment, engaging millions of people in more than 180 countries and territories last year. This year, Earth Hour in Hong Kong puts the focus on business leadership. WWF-Hong Kong once again welcomes people and businesses to join Earth Hour by signing the pledge online and switching off non-essential lights and appliances for one hour, on Saturday, 28 March, from 8:30pm to 9:30pm. Make your pledge now and find out more about Earth Hour at earthhour.wwf.org.hk.