Reusable boxes and bags for greener takeouts

Updated 2017-09-05 11:00:57 China Daily

With the fast growth of mobile internet, an increasing number of people are ordering takeouts when they are too busy to cook. Takeouts have made life more convenient for many, but the plastic bags and boxes used to pack the foods are an environmental hazard. Hbnews.cn comments:

Data show that three leading takeout food apps-Meituan, ele.me and Baidu-receive more than 20 million orders a day. If three plastic bags and/or boxes are used to pack the foods for each order, the total will add up to 60 million plastic bags and/or boxes a day.

That highlights the need to limit the use of plastic in the takeout industry. Some have called for using biodegradable plastic materials, but that will increase the cost of the industry by two to three times.

Besides, biodegradable plastic bags are still disposable goods and will end up in the garbage dumps, polluting the environment. Which means the environmental problem cannot be fully solved this way.

A possible solution lies in reforming the takeout food industry. Currently, the industry follows a consumer-to-consumer mode, meaning small shops send their packed food to consumers, and the apps used to place the orders are nothing but platforms for them to contact each other.

The C2C mode can continue, but the companies running those apps need to do more and introduce packing standards for the registered shops, so that they use reusable bags and boxes. That will facilitate the introduction of reusable glass bottles, paper bags, as well as glass or metal boxes for the shops to use, and allow professional companies to recycle and wash them.

That in turn would require government supervision departments to be more vigilant and make the standards mandatory. Only with ample regulatory measures can the takeout food industry become greener.

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